Israel has been reluctant to adopt nurse practitioners, and as someone that has lived in the United States and knows how beneficial these practitioners can be, it’s hard for me to understand why.
The Israel Medical Association sent a letter to the Health Ministry claiming that allowing nurse practitioners to perform clinical services undermines doctor authority.
And in Israel, very few hospitals use nurse practitioners. The field is a major benefit to the health industry because it helps lessen the need for doctors to meet with every patient. Doctors work in a high-pace environment where they need to treat critical patients before patients suffering from a minor illness.
Time is better spent helping patients that need a doctor right away, so allowing nurse practitioners to see patients that may be suffering from a health issue that is easy to address can be detrimental.
Nurse practitioners are still highly trained professionals; they wear women’s or men’s scrubs, they’re professional and they have a minimum of a master’s degree and experience in the field. These are not professionals that have no experience or training.
Western countries, and the United States, have been using nurse practitioners with great success for years.
But the IMA has strongly objected to the idea, and chairman Prof. Leonid Eidelman filed a dispute with the Finance Ministry over the issue. Eidelman claims that allowing nurse practitioners will harm the quality of health service that patients receive.
The issue that the healthcare industry is facing is that there’s a shortfall in primary care, and in the United States, this shortfall will be between 15,000 and 35,000 by 2025.
Nurse practitioners have been able to fill this gap, prescribing medication and also providing care without oversight. These professionals can work as independent care providers, and while they may not be offering surgery or work with complicated medical issues, they alleviate the workload of already over-stressed physicians.
Science Direct released a study on the effectiveness of nurse practitioners in March, and the findings are positive.
More patients are going to get checkups with nurse practitioners, and this has helped increase primary care utilization by 5%. Patients are rating nurse practitioners higher, claiming that their care was excellent.
Emergency room visits lessened, with a link to nurse practitioners. Ambulatory visits, those in which a patient can walk into the emergency room, fell by 11.6%. These are cases when the condition can often be managed with outpatient care, but without nurse practitioners, patients had no other option but to go to the emergency room and take up a doctor’s time in the process.
And in areas that are under-served, there has also been an increase in yearly checkups. People are using the healthcare industry more when they have the option to go to a nurse practitioner. A major part of this is related to nurse practitioners being able to address primary care provider shortages.
Israel’s reluctance to introduce more nurse practitioners into the healthcare industry may have a long-lasting impact. Maybe it’s the fear of doctor’s losing authority, but doctors still earn higher salaries and need to find ways to lessen their workload as the population continues to age.