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Healthcare Reform and the Role of Nurse Practitioners


Healthcare reforms are regularly developed and improved in different countries regarding the needs and possibilities of the population and the government. In the United States, the major healthcare reform is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed by the president in 2010. This document covers a number of crucial aspects of care that patients should offer in hospitals. Brom, Salsberry, and Graham (2018) underlined its importance due to the possibility to increase access to health insurance and recognize nurse practitioners as the major providers of primary care. Today, American society experiences a shortage of primary care workers, and healthcare reform can be used to solve this problem. In this paper, an understanding of the nurse practitioner role through the prism of healthcare reform has to be developed to increase nurses’ access to care and reduce shortage-related concerns.

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Shortage of Care Providers

The quality of health care depends on a number of factors, including the number of medical workers and the possibility of having legal health insurance. For example, during the last several years, more than 27 million Americans were able to cover their health needs by means of the ACA, which resulted in an increased primary care physician shortage (Bernazzani, 2016). In addition, the expected shortfall of medical workers is expected to be approximately 20,500 employees by the end of 2020 (Bernazzani, 2016). It means that the healthcare staff is not able to meet all the conditions introduced in modern healthcare reforms, and it necessary to search for some new solutions and underline the role of nurse practitioners.

Healthcare Reform

An understanding of the role of nurses in healthcare access should begin with an understanding of healthcare reforms and the ACA, in particular. This reform is not just a document within the frames of which people receive insurance and protect their health, but a source of quality improvement and cost control (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017). The major drivers of change in health care are increased costs, uncontrolled waste, the lack of standardization, the desire to promote high-quality care services, and the necessity to improve systems and infrastructures (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017). All these changes lead to work overload, a lack of practice and training, and nurse turnover. People are not ready to break the work-life balance and give all the priorities to work only.

Role of Nurse Practitioners

Recent healthcare reforms promote nurse practitioners as one of the key providers of care. The goal of nurses is not only patient-centered care, and these practitioners have to realize their roles and possibilities to increase access to primary care providers. For example, nurses can follow innovation and expand access to care by developing innovative care models, specialized clinics, and well-trained medical teams. Being strong innovators in the field of health care, nurses can use reforms and promote new research to track recent changes, collect helpful data, and clarify how to achieve positive patient outcomes and employee satisfaction (Brom et al., 2018). Communication and mobilization of people and resources are the two strengths of nurse practitioners, and healthcare reform cannot control them (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017). The expansion of the scope of nursing practice can be encouraged with time.


In general, the roles of nurse practitioners in health and nursing care may vary, but their worth and urgency remain the same. The shortage of practitioners and the necessity to provide the population with services are the two serious outcomes of the ACA in the United States. Many nurses continue believing that their duties include only the necessity to communicate with families and patients and follow treatment plans. However, it is high time to reevaluate their roles and open new opportunities to change the future of the US healthcare reforms.


Bernazzani, S. (2016). How healthcare reform is impacting primary care. The American Journal of Managed Care. Web.

Brom, H. M., Salsberry, P. J., & Graham, M. C. (2018). Leveraging health care reform to accelerate nurse practitioner full practice authority. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 30(3), 120–130. Web.

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Salmond, S. W., & Echevarria, M. (2017). Healthcare transformation and changing roles for nursing. Orthopedic Nursing, 36(1), 12-25.

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