Solution to doctor shortage

Solution to doctor shortage

Amarillo, TX - Residents in our rural areas continue struggling to get the health care they need as a shortage of doctors continues to grow.

Now more is being done to help fix this nationwide problem.

With the number of physicians providing primary care on the steep decline in Texas, an advocacy organization is calling upon our state's legislature to make some changes.

"Right now in Texas we cannot practice independently, we have to work with a collaborating physician and there's a lot of restrictions on how many nurse practitioners a physician can supervise and collaborate with," says Amber Baker, Registered Nurse, WTAMU.

As a student in the nursing department at WT, Amber Baker says these are some of the barriers she will face when she becomes a nurse practitioner in a few months.

If legislation changes, the role of advanced nurses would be expanded.

"As you advance in your practice and become more independent would allow you to continue as you get more experience become an independent practitioner and that's not an option right now in the state of Texas," says Amber Baker, Registered Nurse, WTAMU.

"We would not have to be tied to a physician for prescriptive authority. By removing barriers, then that allows folks to get the care that they need. That would create more clinics, create more jobs and place less of a burden on the emergency rooms where folks are going for primary care," says Angela Phillips, Doctor of Nursing Practice, WTAMU.

This would also take the strain off of area doctors or provide more opportunities for those people living in rural areas.

"It would allow people to not travel into the big cities to see their primary health care providers. They could have somebody in their community that they could go and see," says Amber Baker, Registered Nurse, WTAMU.

One problem our area faces now is that many physicians don't take all types of insurance but advanced nurses can.

"When we first opened in 2003, we used to mostly see people in the neighborhood. Now we draw from all over Amarillo because we do take Medicaid and Medicare," says Angela Phillips, Doctor of Nursing Practice, WTAMU.

Economists say this move would increase the state's economic output by nearly $8 billion dollars annually, as well as create around 100,000 permanent jobs.