Americans Need Nurses and Demand More Access, Not Less Physician Groups Say No

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CommPRO Editorial Staff

A new survey found 87% of Americans say nurses have been indispensable during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Expand Nursing Care” survey also found that 89% feel patients should be able to receive the same level of care from nurses after the pandemic is over as they did during the pandemic.

The survey uncovered high demand by the public for nurses to address urgent societal needs related to enhanced hospital care, reopening schools, providing safety in nursing homes and greater equality in healthcare including via telehealth:

  • 91% agree that hospitals should be required to meet safe minimum nurse staffing standards for nurses
  • 90% agree that nursing homes should be required to meet minimum safe staffing standards for nurses
  • 86% say school nurses are necessary to safely reopen schools
  • 75% believe nurses should be able to treat patients via telehealth

The online survey was sponsored by NursesEverywhere and fielded by The Harris Poll from July 23 – 27, 2020, queried 2,039 U.S. adults ages 18 and above.

Why nurses matter

Even before the pandemic, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 1 in 4 Americans – 82 million people – did not have regular access to a doctor. With the pandemic spreading quickly, Congress recognized the Nation’s need to rely on its 4 million nurses to ensure people received timely critical healthcare services and passed the CARES Act. This new law, as well as support from governors across the country, suspended previous regulatory barriers that had historically prevented nurses from providing healthcare services for which they were educated and qualified. Nurses were also released to practice across state lines to the highest need regions for critical COVID-19 care.

“This pandemic has changed health care in America. The survey shows that people are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping recent critical improvements, like telehealth and greater access to nurses after the pandemic is over,” said Professor Linda Aiken, Ph.D., RN, Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and member of NursesEverywhere. “While temporary emergency measures have enabled nurses to fill gaps exacerbated by COVID-19, access to quality health care delivered by nurses and their physician colleagues has never been more important.”

NursesEverywhere, is a non-partisan coalition of healthcare leaders focused on enhancing access to nurses to improve care delivery, lower costs and help people achieve better physical, emotional and economic outcomes.

Broad based support for the expansion of nursing care

Americans don’t just want more nurses during the pandemic, 79% of U.S. adults said they would like nurses to play a greater role in their future healthcare.

There is wide support for reducing unnecessary practice restrictions and barriers to accessing nursing care. The National Governors Association supports full access to nurse practitioners, as does the Federal Trade Commission.

During the pandemic, Medicare has been expanded to enable nurses to support patients via telehealth, to provide patients with home healthcare and provided greater practice reach as it allowed nurses to be providers in a wider range of settings, such as nursing homes and hospitals.

“The facts show that greater access to nurses providing their full expertise improves healthcare outcomes. Hundreds of studies have documented that care by nurse practitioners is safe, effective, and convenient. Patients are highly satisfied with care by nurse practitioners,” continued Professor Aiken.

The new poll also shows a strong consensus with almost three-quarters of U.S. adults saying nurses should be able to help patients in ways they have been educated for without requiring a doctor’s oversight. “Better access to nurses means better care for everyone,” says Tim Raderstorf DNP, RN Chief Innovation Officer at The Ohio State University College of Nursing and member of NursesEverywhere. “Nurses work in teams and follow evidence-based practice to refer patients to physicians and other specialists as needed.”

Also, at this time of national reflection and action about racial justice, it is noteworthy that 88% of the public believe that many healthcare disparities in this country could be improved by increased access to nursing care. Nurses work in all settings and all communities and have a historical commitment to rural, inner-city, and other vulnerable populations.

Source: NGO Wire

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