Patients experience a high level of satisfaction in the medical services they receive when they have a nurse practitioner as their primary care provider. In some cases, they are happier with a nurse practitioner than they are with a medical doctor. This is all according to a recent study that is among the first to delve into patients’ opinions on nurse practitioners.

The results show an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the work of nurse practitioners.  That’s great news for those seeking their Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Practitioner degree. The results of the survey, coupled with a huge demand for nurse practitioners in Texas and around the country, give nurses who want to enter graduate school even more reasons to make the commitment. 

What the Survey Found 

Thomas Kippenbrock, a nursing professor at the University of Arkansas, led researchers on the new survey. It was undertaken because even as nursing practitioners take on bigger roles in family care and pediatrics, little research has been done. To obtain a large sample of opinions, Kippenrock and fellow University of Arkansas researchers looked at feedback from 53,885 patients in the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers And Systems survey developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The survey asks patients to rate their interactions with health providers.

The study reports that “analysis comparing patient experiences between providers revealed NP to be rated significantly higher than their colleagues.” In a release through the University of Arkansas, Kippenrock said the research was a big step forward in showing the need for nurse practitioners. He said, “The leap in this study was a large national scale investigation. Previous findings were derived from small sample sizes isolated to local community clinics. Consequently, we believe patients are highly satisfied with a nurse practitioners’ primary care services.”

Why the Study Is Important 

In the study, researchers wrote that patient satisfaction with their providers can lead to better health outcomes. The findings of the study should be a signal to policymakers that more nurse practitioners should be employed in “primary care settings and achieve greater patient satisfaction that can influence outcomes associated with patient-centered care initiatives.

That could prove most important in smaller towns, rural areas and poor urban areas that are currently underserved by medical doctors. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 58 million Americans live in places that are considered “primary care shortage areas.” That number is expected to grow as the population increases. The Kaiser study quotes from studies that project there will be a 20,000-plus shortage in primary care physicians as soon as 2020.

Nurse practitioners can play a huge role in closing this widening gap. As more people need medical care and fewer physicians are able to provide it, nurses who decided to become a nurse practitioner position themselves to make an enormous impact on people’s lives.