Youens: Physicians and nurse practitioners work best as a team

Tags: scope of practice, team-based care, primary care, shortage

Youens: Physicians and nurse practitioners
work best as a team

Plus, TAFP explores scope of practice in latest Texas Family Physician magazine

posted 12.09.10

In an editorial published Dec. 7 by the Dallas Morning News, TAFP Past President Robert Youens discusses Texas’ primary care physician shortage and how patients will access care in the coming years. Titled “Taming Texas’ primary care shortage,” he poses three questions to readers: “Do patients have access to primary care today? Will they have access to primary care in the future? And if so, who will provide that care as health care legislation is implemented?”

The answer, Youens writes, is to support team-based care led by a physician and supported by nurses and other health care providers. Not—as an earlier Dallas Morning News editorial promotes—replace primary care physicians with advanced practice nurses.

This editorial, “Nurse-practitioner law worth Legislature’s debate,” also addresses the primary care shortage, but questions current scope of practice laws in Texas that require physician supervision of nurse practitioners and calls for regulations to be relaxed as in other states.

As the call for independent practice for nurse practitioners heats up in and the clock ticks down toward the 82nd Texas Legislature when bills to change scope laws will almost certainly be filed, TAFP and AAFP have published articles, issue briefs, and white papers to educate physicians, the public, and lawmakers on this issue.

TAFP has explored scope of practice in depth, most recently as the cover of the latest Texas Family Physician magazine. In the article, TAFP Director of Communications Jonathan Nelson addresses the differences in education and training between primary care physicians and advanced practice nurses, and answers the questions of cost-effectiveness of the two providers and how expanding nurses’ scope will impact health shortage areas.

The Academy has also released a set of three issue briefs describing the rationale to support team-based care led by a primary care physician and protect against changes to scope of practice laws in Texas. TAFP hopes members will use the quick facts and graphs in the coming months. To access these resources, go to

The American Academy launched a set of online resources further discussing the scope of practice of nurse practitioners and other health care professionals. The webpage includes talking points, articles, AAFP policies, and a sample op-ed. To access this listing, go to