Nurse Practitioners Can Help Close California’s Primary Care Gap

According to a September 2018 paper in Health Affairs, “Nurse practitioners are well prepared to help fill care gaps arising from shortages of primary care physicians in California.” Those shortages have the greatest effect on the nearly 8 million Californians living in the state’s 640 primary medical care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines HPSAs as having a population-to-primary care physician ratio of more than 3,500 to 1.

UCSF School of Nursing faculty members Joanne Spetz and Ulrike Muench at the Healthforce Center at UCSF co-authored the Health Affairs article, which argues that “Expanding education programs in underserved areas, increasing the diversity of the nurse practitioner [NP] workforce, and ensuring that nurse practitioners feel empowered to fully use their skills are necessary to meet both current and future primary care needs.”

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