With number of insured on the rise, nurse practitioners may be key solution

With more people using the health-care system, the nurse practitioner may play a key role in providing primary care. Bob Smithing is an easygoing, approachable guy — traits his patients surely appreciate in their primary-care provider. But there is one thing patients can do to get a rise out of him. They can call him “Dr. Smithing.” Smithing is a nurse practitioner, a medical professional who works in a family clinic in Kent with four other nurse practitioners and no medical doctors. While there are few practices in the Puget Sound area run exclusively by these nurses with advanced training, Smithing could be a trailblazer in a new trend. Already there are shortages of primary-care providers in some areas, and the demand will keep growing thanks to the country’s aging population and to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is boosting the number of insured people. And while medical schools are struggling to persuade future M. D.s to specialize in general medicine, the number of primary-care nurse practitioners is expected to increase 30 percent over this decade, according to federal data. READ MORE HERE

By Lisa Stiffler Special to The Seattle Times