Minnesota primary care chain staffs NPs exclusively

A chain of primary care clinics in Minneapolis is responding to the nation's physician shortage with a unique model: staffing nurse practitioners only, Medscape reported Sept. 23.

The chain, called The Good Clinic, offers patients 40-minute exams with a one-day waiting period, a sharp contrast from the typical two-week wait for a 15-minute appointment at many physician-staffed clinics.

Kevin Lee Smith, DNP, founder and chief practitioner officer of The Good Clinic, said NPs at the six clinics rely heavily on computer messaging for internal consults based on a patient's needs. The clinic chain also partners with a nearby radiology group and has an extensive referral list for patients who require a higher level of care.  

"We are here to advocate for our patients," Dr. Smith told Medscape. "We have best practice guidelines in-house, and there's also that professional accountability and ethics, that you're not going to go into the territory of managing something that you're not comfortable with. It takes a village to provide the appropriate care for an individual."

Minnesota is one of 26 states that permits NPs to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients without physician oversight. While some physicians have expressed concerns about patient safety and care quality when letting NPs practice independently, NPs argue they can play a key role in responding to the nation's physician shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of NPs will grow by 46 percent between 2021 and 2031 — from 246,700 in 2021 to 359,400 — making it the fastest growing job over the next decade. 

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