Understanding of roles among interprofessional teams with nurse practitioners benefits outcomes

Primary care teams that maximize NP skills can care for more patients, a vital need as U.S. healthcare demand grows.

New York, NY – In a new study from the Columbia University School of Nursing, nurse practitioners (NPs) working in primary care teams report practice and team characteristics that allow them to maximize their skills in providing patient care.

“Primary care environments where NPs can practice to their maximum capacity is not just good for them and the profession, it’s also good for patients and our healthcare systems,” says Lusine Poghosyan, PhD, lead study author. “Well-functioning primary care teams that use every healthcare team member optimally will be able to care for more patients—this is very important as demand for healthcare continues to grow.”

Study investigators examined data from one-on-one NP interviews and a 314-person NP survey to get a picture of how NPs function within their healthcare teams.

NPs report strong collaborative relationships with physicians that includes sharing and even shifting responsibilities between them to meet patient needs. They also report good relationships with RNs other staff members.

NPs report less positive relationships with administrators, who they say are absent from day-to-day practice and less informed about the NP scope of practice. Half of the NPs reported no regular communication between NPs and administrators.

Poghosyan also noted that, “In environments where NPs have been practicing longer, their role appeared to be clearer.” When teams spend more time together, they develop better understanding, trust and respect for each other and their work.

The study, “Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Practice Characteristics: Barriers and Opportunities for Interprofessional Teamwork,” was published in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management.