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67% Favor Expanding Use of Nurse Practitioners For Routine Care

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

With a growing shortage of doctors projected for the years ahead, a number of states are considering or have already passed legislation that allows nurse practitioners to step in for physicians in routine cases. Most voters think that’s a good idea.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 67% of Likely U.S. Voters favor training and licensing of nurse practitioners to expand the level of routine medical care they provide. Only 20% oppose such training and licensing, with another 12% not sure about it. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-seven percent (77%) say they would be at least somewhat comfortable visiting a trained and licensed nurse practitioner for routine medical care, with 45% saying they would be Very Comfortable. Eighteen percent (18%) would not be comfortable visiting a nurse practitioner, but that includes just five percent (5%) who would be Not At All Comfortable.

Most voters (52%) also think the quality of health care would improve if routine medical care was handled by nurse practitioners and doctors were able to focus more on challenging health care issues. Just 20% think the quality of health care would be reduced under that scenario, and 10% say it would have no impact. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided.

A plurality (43%) of voters think the cost of health care would decrease if nurse practitioners were trained and licensed to provide routine medical care. Only 12% disagree and believe health care costs would increase. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say the increased use of nurse practitioners for routine care would have no impact on costs, while again 18% are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on April 23-24, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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