Susan Presley, writing for the American Journal of Nursing, examines the role nurse practitioners are playing in addressing the well-documented shortage of primary care physicians in rural areas. The number of rural NPs is growing, but those looking to work in underserved and often remote areas still face numerous practical challenges.
Mary Jo Goolsby, director of research and education for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, said that just over 20% of NPs practice in rural areas. “This is actually about the same percentage of the U.S. population we have living in rural areas and more than twice the percentage of physicians who practice in rural areas.” And the trend is moving upward, albeit slowly. Thirty years ago, a small cohort study from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (published in the October 1978 issue of the American Journal of Public Health) showed that only 16% of NPs worked in rural settings.
She then enumerates the challenges facing NPs who are looking to practice in rural areas, challenges which include setting up their own private practices, insurance, relatively low salaries and opposition from physician groups.
Rural health journalism workshop
AHCJ’s one-day workshop on covering rural health issues will take place tomorrow (June 4) in Kansas City. It’s free to AHCJ members, go here to register or to learn more about the day’s training.