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.

Nurse Practitioners account for 1 in 4 medical healthcare providers in rural areas, but their potential to provide a full spectrum of primary care services can't be realized if states maintain practice restrictions.

Few professionals enjoy the trust and respect that nurses do. They've earned every bit of it and deserve even more. Why is it, then, that so many of the most educated, thoroughly trained and well-credentialed nurses aren't allowed to use all their skills and talents to take care of patients who want and need their help?

Since the 1960s, the number of nurse practitioners in the U.S. has increased significantly. Two nurse practitioners in Georgia share their stories about how their roles help meet the demand for primary care.

Over 58 million Americans live in areas that are considered primary care shortage areas. The growing number of nurse practitioners could alleviate this pressure—but Medicaid and legislative restrictions are limiting them.

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