Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners hold vital roles in a variety of health care settings. While Congress debates how to move forward with the Affordable Care Act, it’s crucial for their practice authority to be at the forefront of the conversation.

Allowing nurse practitioners to work independently is met with resistance in America's physician-dominated system. But doing just that, along with standardizing scope of practice laws nationwide, could increase access to care in the midst of a physician shortage. 

Nowadays in Mississippi it may be more common to visit a nurse than it is to visit a doctor, especially an APRN. APRNs are increasingly playing a larger role in Mississippi's healthcare, especially in rural areas that often lack a physician provider. However, APRNs continue to be challenged by restrictive collaborative requirements. 

By 2020, Indiana is predicted to have 500 fewer primary care doctors than needed to treat its growing and aging population. More nurse practitioners are stepping up to meet the needs of Hoosier patients as Indiana grapples with this shortage.

Nurses are considered the most trusted profession in the United States. Research shows that nurse practitioners could be the solution to the growing physician shortage across the country, but medical associations disagree. This episode of Freakonomics Radio explores the issues holding these APRNs back.

One way to cope with the greater demand for healthcare caused by an aging population is to reform scope of practice laws. Independent nurse practitioners increase the supply of qualified healthcare professionals, and this lowers prices while improving access.

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