Are nurse practitioners replacing family practice doctors?

Lesly Curry was recently named rural practitioner of the year by the Illinois Rural Health Association. Since she arrived in Galatia, Illinois three years ago, the town, which previously had no access to healthcare facilities within 10 miles, has transformed into a medical center with a very busy, award-winning downtown practice. Curry was recognized for her work in establishing this healthcare center, which serves between 1,800 and 2,000 patients.

In addition to her obligations at the practice, Curry also introduced healthcare and anti-bullying programs into local schools, and became involved in maternity and prenatal care in the surrounding Amish communities.

Curry is a family nurse practitioner who earned a master’s in nursing and recently enrolled in a doctoral program. According to the Daily Register, nurses like Curry are now doing much of the work that general practitioners did a generation ago. Today, as fewer doctors are electing to specialize in family medicine, more nurse practitioners are stepping in to take over these positions.

"I do almost exactly what a family doctor did 40 years ago," Curry said. "I even do home visits with them from time-to-time."

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