In as Nurse Practitioners (NP) or Physician Assistants

In these
rural community’s technology is a great start to providing healthcare.
Recruiting the appropriate personal would be the best solution to assist with
disparities in these rural areas.  As
stated above a few ways to resolve this would be to offer high school students
scholarships to attend medical school, as well as financial incentive to
medical school students to come and practice in their communities. 

In order for
leaders in rural areas to be able to attract healthcare professionals to their
areas they need to be creative. One creative way to would be to look at
recruiting not only physicians but non-physician health professionals such as
Nurse Practitioners (NP) or Physician Assistants (PA). These non-physician
professionals can help physicians manage care for these underserved
patients.  Both NPs and PAs are licensed
health professionals that hold advanced degrees that can provide direct patient
care in primary care as well as specialty care. Another way that these non-physician
professionals can be of more help to rural area would be expanding their scope
of practice so that they can provide more diagnostic and valuable services to
patients.

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According to a research brief, Provider
Scope of Practice: Expanding Non-Physician Providers’ Responsibilities Can
Benefit Consumers, “there
is emerging importance on patient centered care where nurses, physicians, and
other members of a care team are able to practice to the fullest extent of
their training” (Altarum Brief, 2017). Provider scope of
practice regulations is what a provider is permitted to provide based on their
level of education.  In order for these non-physician professionals it would be imperative
for regulators to loosen these regulatory statutes to allow PAs and NPs the
ability to work cohesively as a healthcare team and provide the appropriate
care that is needed in these extremely venerable areas. 

Another benefit
to have PAs and NPs able to provide care in these areas could help reduce
healthcare costs. “Medicare
and most private insurers reimburse NPs
and PAs,  at 85 percent of the physician
fee schedule when they bill independently and not under physician supervision” (Altarum
Brief, 2017).  With these
lower reimbursement rates, this may also help rural hospitals and medical
groups will increase cost-efficiency and lower costs for the patient’s. 

Another advantage of hiring
PAs and NPs are that they require less time and cost intensive education, which
can make it quicker and easier for them to join the healthcare workforce. There
is a chance that Colleges and Universities can help with these shortages by
partnering with rural hospitals to provide NPs and PAs employment while they
are still enrolled in school.  This
partnership can help patients receive better access to healthcare and help these
NPs and PAs get the hands-on experience they need to succeed. 

Expanding the recruitment
of non-physician providers to rural areas may likely improve access to not only
routine care but specialty care as well. 
NPs and PAs can provide quality care while reducing costs and may be
able to have the same successful patient results to those physicians practicing
in these areas.

While these solutions may
not solve the economic healthcare challenges that face people in rural America,
they may be a start to providing the best possible care to an underserved
population that needs access to healthcare as those living in metropolitan
areas.