Rural Arkansas suffers from a shortage of physicians. One way to address the problem is by exploring alternative systems of delivering medical care. Two alternative systems are advanced nurse practitioners and midwives.

Advanced nurse practitioners are “registered nurses who are prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. NPs complete graduate-level education preparation that leads to a master’s degree.” Nurse practitioners “take health histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems; interpret laboratory results and X-rays.” They “prescribe and manage medications and other therapies; provide health teaching and supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance; and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.” (Source: American College of Nurse Practitioners)

Midwives are primary health care providers to women throughout their lifespan. The group includes certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs). Both are regulated at the state level. CNMs are legally authorized to practice in every state. CMs are currently legally authorized to practice in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. (Source: American College of Nurse Midwives)

  Alternative systems for delivering medical care in rural Arkansas should include advanced nurse practitioners and midwives.