Nursing is nursing, not doctoring

The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 1993

Nurse practitioners have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to increase access to primary health care while preserving quality and reducing costs.

Having practiced neonatal nursing for the past 13 years, I am continuously frustrated by this nation’s ability to cure 500-gram infants vis-à-vis its glaring inability to guarantee that the mother or infant will have access to basic, minimal medical care after the baby is discharged from hospital.

Will the economically disadvantaged babies that I have so lovingly and painstakingly cared for over the years have access to medical treatment for the fevers, sore throats, and earaches of childhood without their parents’ resorting to emergency rooms?

Your August 13 editorial, “Nurses’ Lib,” was right on mark in supporting the proposal of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Task Force on Healthcare Reform to remove barriers constraining advanced practice nurses (APNs) from serving as primary care providers. These nurse practitioners are well prepared and suited to fill the void created by the shortage of primary care physicians to treat common ailments.

If national healthcare reform results in basic health care becoming universal for all Americans, many more providers of primary care will be needed to care for the 37 million people who are now uninsured.

Nurse practitioners have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to increase access to primary health care while preserving quality and reducing costs.

Toni Inglis, MSN, RN CNS (retired), FAAN, a lifelong Austin resident and retired neonatal intensive care nurse and editor of NursingNews, writes a monthly opinion column for the Austin American-Statesman editorial page.