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New Mexico wants to help us help patients

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On Nov. 13, Gov. Susana Martinez proposed a simple and pragmatic road map to build a strong health care provider workforce in New Mexico: an aggressive campaign designed to recruit nurse practitioners from neighboring states and to increase the numbers of nurse practitioners graduating from New Mexico institutions of higher learning.

As a long-time nurse practitioner who lives and works in New Mexico, and cares about the communities here in need, I encourage my fellow nurse practitioners to make the move.

For more than 20 years, New Mexico has provided patients with full and direct access to nurse practitioner care. The state grants nurse practitioners the authority to practice to the very top of our education, freeing patients from the arbitrary, bureaucratic restrictions that persist in other states, including Texas, Oklahoma and Utah.

This environment allows us to provide patients with the very best care. For example:

• It helps encourage nurse practitioners to open and operate independent clinics throughout the state and especially in the rural communities that are desperate for providers.

• It increases patient care access, and leads to lower costs and fewer delays.

• It provides the authority to prescribe medications and refer patients to specialists.

• It follows the recommendations of leading, independent institutions that overwhelmingly cite nurse practitioners as safe, cost-effective health providers with patient outcomes that are equivalent to those of physicians.

New Mexico’s leaders not only understand the role of nurse practitioners – they embrace it.

They recognize that an expanded nurse practitioners workforce is essential given the rollout of national health care reform, an aging population and a reduction in the supply of physicians.

As a New Mexican, I am pleased that the governor has put forth common-sense solutions to these real-world health care problems.

What’s more, I believe it makes a difference to live and work in a place that recognizes our profession as essential, and understands the importance of including nurse practitioners as full partners in health care delivery.

New Mexico has long recognized that nurse practitioners are highly educated, expertly trained and traditionally care for the most vulnerable populations: those who are chronically ill and disabled, medically disenfranchised, underinsured and geographically isolated.

In short, we want to help patients. New Mexico wants to help us help patients.

As Medicaid coverage expands and more people gain insurance coverage, 1,300 nurse practitioners across the state will continue to meet patient needs, serving individuals and families – people of all ages – in both rural and urban settings, taking Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

So reach out and thank Martinez and her administration for putting the best interests of New Mexicans first.

Then, help spread the word.

Let nurse practitioners everywhere know that New Mexico is a great place to live, work and play.

We look forward to welcoming them and their practices.

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