Cultivating the Role of Nurse Practitioners in Providing Primary Care to Vulnerable Populations in an Era of Health-Care Reform

Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2016 Feb;17(1):24-31. doi: 10.1177/1527154416645539. Epub 2016 May 9.


The evolving role of nurse practitioners (NPs) as primary care providers, especially for vulnerable populations, is central to the debate regarding strategies to address the growing need for primary care services. The current article provides policy recommendations for leveraging and expanding the historic role of NPs in caring for vulnerable populations, by focusing on three key policy levers: NP scope-of-practice regulation, distribution of the NP workforce, and NP education. These policy levers must go hand in hand to build a sufficient and equitably distributed NP workforce, to help meet the escalating need for primary care in an era of health-care reform.

Keywords: nurse practitioners; primary care; vulnerable populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Care Reform / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners / organization & administration*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • Vulnerable Populations*