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California is facing a growing shortage of primary care physicians. According to the Future Health Workforce Commission and Health Force Center at UC San Francisco, California is projected to be short 8,000 primary care clinicians by 2030, including doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

The state’s legislature are considering granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners who receive additional training and certification to work independently of doctors in an effort to offset the shortage of primary care physicians. With the additional authority, nurse practitioners would be able to treat patients without a “practice agreement” from a supervising physician.

Concerned Californians are supporting the passing of legislature to allow nurse practitioners full practice authority. More than a third of California residents believe there aren’t enough primary care providers and specialists in their communities according to a poll by the California Health Care Foundation. However, California’s doctors’ lobbies have fought the idea for legislature allowing full practice authority, arguing that it would dilute the quality of medical care that patients receive.

Nurse practitioners hold a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing practice, and the majority of nurse practitioners work in primary care. Full practice authority allows nurse practitioners to evaluate patients independently, order diagnostic tests, manage treatments, and prescribe medication.

If California passes new legislature to allow full practice authority for nurse practitioners, it would join 22 other states and the Veterans Administration in doing so. Researchers from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute also believe that it would save the state millions of dollars a year.

To learn more about California’s efforts to pass legislation granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners in an effort to offset doctor shortages, visit here.

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