Nurse Practitioner Autonomy and Complexity of Care in Rural Primary Care

Hannah T. Neprash, Laura Barrie Smith, Bethany Sheridan, Ira Moscovice, Shailendra Prasad, Katy Kozhimannil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The growing ranks of nurse practitioners (NPs) in rural areas of the United States have the potential to help alleviate existing primary care shortages. This study uses a nationwide source of claims- and EHR-data from 2017 to construct measures of NP clinical autonomy and complexity of care. Comparisons between rural and urban primary care practices reveal greater clinical autonomy for rural NPs, who were more likely to have an independent patient panel, to practice with less physician supervision, and to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances. In contrast, rural and urban NPs provided care of similar complexity. These findings provide the first claims- and EHR-based evidence for the commonly held perception that NPs practice more autonomously in rural areas than in urban areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedical Care Research and Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • nurse practitioners
  • primary care
  • rural health care
  • scope of practice

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