Americans Need Nurses and Demand More Access, Not Less. Physician Groups Say No
Updated: Aug 27
New Survey Finds Nine out of 10 of Americans Agree: We Should Continue to Have The Same Level of Nursing Care After the Pandemic
A new survey released today found 87% of Americans say nurses have been indispensable during the Covid-19 pandemic. The “Expand Nursing Care” survey also found that 89% feel patients should be able to receive the same level of care from nurses after the pandemic is over as they did during the pandemic.
The survey uncovered high demand by the public for nurses to address urgent societal needs related to enhanced hospital care, reopening schools, providing safety in nursing homes and greater equality in healthcare including via telehealth:
· 91% agree that hospitals should be required to meet safe minimum nurse staffing standards for nurses
· 90% agree that nursing homes should be required to meet minimum safe staffing standards for nurses
· 86% say school nurses are necessary to safely reopen schools
· 75% believe nurses should be able to treat patients via telehealth
The online survey was sponsored by NursesEverywhere and fielded by The Harris Poll from July 23 – 27, 2020, queried 2,039 U.S. adults ages 18 and above.
Why Nurses Matter
Even before the pandemic, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 1 in 4 Americans – 82 million people – did not have regular access to a doctor. With the pandemic spreading quickly, Congress recognized the Nation’s need to rely on its 4 million nurses to ensure people received timely critical healthcare services and passed the CARES Act. This new law, as well as support from governors across the country, suspended previous regulatory barriers that had historically prevented nurses from providing healthcare services for which they were educated and qualified. Nurses were also released to practice across state lines to the highest need regions for critical COVID-19 care.
“This pandemic has changed health care in America. The survey shows that people are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping recent critical improvements, like telehealth and greater access to nurses after the pandemic is over,” said Professor Linda Aiken, Ph.D., RN, Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and member of NursesEverywhere. “While temporary emergency measures have enabled nurses to fill gaps exacerbated by COVID-19, access to quality health care delivered by nurses and their physician colleagues has never been more important.”
NursesEverywhere, is a non-partisan coalition of healthcare leaders focused on enhancing access to nurses to improve care delivery, lower costs and help people achieve better physical, emotional and economic outcomes.
Broad based support for the expansion of nursing care
Americans don’t just want more nurses during the pandemic, 79% of U.S. adults said they would like nurses to play a greater role in their future healthcare.
There is wide support for reducing unnecessary practice restrictions and barriers to accessing nursing care. The National Governors Association supports full access to nurse practitioners, as does the Federal Trade Commission.
During the pandemic, Medicare has been expanded to enable nurses to support patients via telehealth, to provide patients with home healthcare and provided greater practice reach as it allowed nurses to be providers in a wider range of settings, such as nursing homes and hospitals.
“The facts show that greater access to nurses providing their full expertise improves healthcare outcomes. Hundreds of studies have documented that care by nurse practitioners is safe, effective, and convenient. Patients are highly satisfied with care by nurse practitioners,” continued Professor Aiken.
The new poll also shows a strong consensus with almost three-quarters of U.S. adults saying nurses should be able to help patients in ways they have been educated for without requiring a doctor’s oversight. “Better access to nurses means better care for everyone,” says Tim Raderstorf DNP, RN Chief Innovation Officer at The Ohio State University College of Nursing and member of NursesEverywhere. “Nurses work in teams and follow evidence-based practice to refer patients to physicians and other specialists as needed.”
Also, at this time of national reflection and action about racial justice, it is noteworthy that 88% of the public believe that many healthcare disparities in this country could be improved by increased access to nursing care. Nurses work in all settings and all communities and have a historical commitment to rural, inner-city, and other vulnerable populations.
Nurses ranked the #1 profession in public trust but full access to them is opposed by physicians groups
Nurses have been ranked as the “most trusted profession” by the US Gallup Poll for the past 18 years. Building on this foundation of trust, the “Expand Nursing Care” survey also found that in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the public strongly supports maintaining and increasing access to nurses, especially to help communities open schools and their economies.
The pandemic is causing daily infections over 50,000 and more than 1,000 Americans' deaths. Despite this ever-growing need, doctors’ groups, led by the American Medical Association, are lobbying to roll back nurses' enhanced patient care roles. In a letter sent to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, physician groups called for the federal government and state governors to reverse the access patients gained to nurses during the pandemic. Responding to pressure from state medical societies, governors in Kansas, Tennessee and Michigan have already rescinded emergency measures for greater public access to nurses despite the continued critical needs for healthcare services.
“Going backwards by withdrawing emergency measures to make healthcare more available would wipe out access to essential care for millions of Americans overnight. It would drastically worsen our already strained healthcare system at a time when we need every health professional to save American lives” said Rebecca Love, MSN, RN, President of SONSIEL and member of NursesEverywhere.
Nurses Everywhere is a voluntary nonpartisan coalition based in New Orleans comprised of nationally and internationally recognized nursing and healthcare leaders and innovators committed to improving health outcomes. The organization is dedicated to educating the public about their rights to access nursing care. To find out more at www.nurseseverywhere.com
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About the Survey
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of NursesEverywhere from July 23-27, 2020 among 2,039 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Wendy Salomon (Managing Director, The Harris Poll; firstname.lastname@example.org).