Why not let nurses help improve W.Va. health care?

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — As West Virginia continues to struggle to find enough medical professionals, especially in rural areas, we have to wonder about the hesitancy to give advanced-practice registered nurses, or APRNs, more ability to provide care.

Two bills, Senate Bill 212 and House Bill 4342, call for giving nurse practitioners and midwives the ability to practice without a collaborative relationship with a doctor, as well as expand their ability to prescribe medication.

In a state short on doctors, especially family-practice physicians, giving these highly trained nurses more ability to aid patients would appear to make sense.

But both the West Virginia Medical Association and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine oppose expanding APRNs’ range of practice, according to a report in The Charleston Gazette.

A legislative audit made significant points about the impending health crisis if the state doesn’t recruit more medical professionals.

The audit noted that about 30 percent of the state’s active physicians are age 60 or older, making West Virginia “6th in the nation for an aging physician population.”

That fact, which will likely mean a significant number of physicians will retire or stop seeking additional patients, is of grave concern. And along with health care reform adding additional people to the health care system, these factors will put additional strain on what is well documented to be an already less-than-satisfactory situation…

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