California Considers Expanded Roles for Nurses in Primary Care
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Posted by: Melissa Moody
April 22, 2013 (Capital Public Radio) Some nurse practitioners in California already see patients
without a doctor in the room. Patients like Anastacia
Casperson has struggled with homelessness and drug addiction,
Now, she's at Glide Health Services, a clinic in San
Francisco's Tenderloin district.
Clark uses the visit as an opportunity to ask about other health
matters - like her efforts to quit smoking. After a half hour
visit, Casperson left with a prescription. She says she's been
coming to this clinic for a few years.
"They have compassion for a client. They have understanding for
a client," Casperson says. "I like the nurses here. Because they're
like one big family, and they all work together.
This clinic is run by nurses with advanced training. Nurse
practitioners - or NPs - in California have at least a masters'
A physician visits 12 hours a week, to sign forms and consult on
difficult cases. A bill in the California legislature would
allow nurse practitioners to provide primary care
independently. Supporters say that would enable more people to get
care in inner cities and rural areas.
"It's difficult to get primary care physicians to work in a
place here because the pay is low often times and there's more
money in specialty practice," says clinic manager Karen Hill.
"The Housing is incredibly expensive here if you want to raise a
family. And the population is difficult."
But Hill says this clinic wasn't started because of a lack of
physicians. It was established with help from a nursing school
, seeking to serve a vulnerable