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Primary Care, Diabetes and the Role of NPs

Diabetes And Pcp

NP management of diabetic patients in the Veterans Health Administration spurs discussion of primary care providers.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) have been providing high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to patients of all ages and walks of life for more than half a century—including in primary care. In fact, according to AANP’s 2016 National Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey, a total of 83.4 percent of NPs were certified in an area of primary care as of spring 2016.

A recent editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine further explores NPs in primary care, specifically related to caring for patients within the Veterans Health Administration who have been diagnosed with diabetes. In a study of 368,481 adult patients who were treated pharmaceutically for their diabetes, those who received care from NPs and physician assistants (PAs) were found to have “outcomes equivalent to those of patients cared for by physicians.”

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) “Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2018” recommends a patient-centered, team-based approach to caring for patients with diabetes. Whether a primary care provider is a physician, NP or PA, a treatment plan’s success is dependent upon a collaborative team and an informed, activated patient. Initiatives such as the Patient-Centered Medical Home help support comprehensive primary care and offer new opportunities for team-based diabetes management.

AANP supports this team-based approach to care, particularly as NPs can fill many roles within a patient’s primary care team when they practice to the fullest extent of their education and training.