Nurses Could Be Part Of The Cure For Heath Care Woes


Posted on 20th November 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized


How often have you heard the role of nurses discussed in all the debate over health care reform?

I’d venture to guess that you haven’t. That’s why a New York Times column this week on what part nurses can play in addressing America’s health care crisis, written by a doctor, Pauline Chen, was an enlightening read.

She writes about a report released last month, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” that has several sensible recommendations. One of the prime notions was “a debunking of the notion that physicians are the only ones who should lead (and be reimbursed) for any changes in the current health care system,” Chen wrote.

As an example, Chen cites the Transitional Care Model program at the University of Pennsylvania. Nurses are matched with hospitalized high-risk elderly patients. For a three-month period after the patient is released from the hospital, that nurse visits him or her at home, goes with them to their doctor’s offices, and works with their primary-care doctor and family.

That program so far cut hospital readmissions and costs by as high as $5,000 a patient.

The report also recommmended that the whole issue of a nurse’s training be revisited, with a standard set for exactly what education constitutes a registered nurse. There is also the suggestion that residency programs perhaps be part of the curriculum.  

Not surprisingly the report, done over a two-year period by a panel assembled by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has been skewered by the American Medical Association, according to Chen. The AMA in a statement said that “with a shortage of both nurses and physicians, increasing the responsibilityof nurses is not the answer to the physician shortage.”

Neither is clinging to old ways of thinking.