Researcher: States could revisit regulations on NPs to help meet demand.

Nurse practitioners are increasingly providing house calls for frail and elderly patients, eclipsing any other specialties in number of home visits in 2013, new research reveals. However, regulations are hindering the profession’s growth in many states even as demand for in-home care climbs, one researcher reports.

In 2013, nurse practitioners provided more than 1.13 million home visits, surpassing the 1.08 million made by internal medicine doctors, the new study found. That’s the reverse of 2012, when internal medicine docs made 1.08 million visits and nurse practitioners made fewer than 925,000.

“This has implications for both house-call providers and nursing education,” said researcher Nengliang “Aaron” Yao, PhD, of the School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “If we want to take care of our geriatric population, we really need more providers to do so.”

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The number of new doctors licensed each year is capped by the number of medical residencies available, but there is no such limit on nurse practitioners. But regulations in many states are limiting the growth of that field as well, Yao said. By revisiting those rules, he said, state governments could help address some of their residents’ unmet medical needs. “If we want to improve geriatric care and reduce rural disparities, that’s where we should go,” he said.

In addition to suggesting that states re-examine their regulations, Yao also recommends that nursing schools offer training programs in home-based primary and palliative care.

Read the full article here.