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The Daily Tar Heel

Nurses are vital to our health care system


In Thursday’s article “Health care evolves,” the reporter did not address the contributions of North Carolina nurses in implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession.

Nurses have been rated the most-trusted professionals by Gallup for 11 consecutive years and are recognized as “leaders in the health care industry” who provide safe, affordable, efficient and quality care.

The growing demand for access to primary care and preventive health services requires strong, collaborative partnerships between all medical professions.

Medical assistants make valuable contributions to health care, yet a quote in the article suggested that nurses were being replaced with medical assistants because medical assistants are trained in billing practices and “they can diagnose for medications.”

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant.

They can take vital signs, but they cannot diagnose. In contrast, a registered nurse is required to have two to four years of formal education and to pass a licensing exam.

Nurses with advanced degrees (masters or doctorate), such as nurse practitioners, can diagnose, prescribe medications and manage patients in primary care settings.

Nurses are educated to fill vital roles in our increasingly complex health care environment, and they are a valuable asset to addressing North Carolina’s critical need for skilled primary care providers.

To overlook the role that nurses will play in providing cost-effective, quality health care as our nation’s health needs evolve is shortsighted.

Jean Ann Davison
Doctorate of Nursing Practice

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