APRNs may be a solution to Hawaii doctor shortage

Thank you for your Sept. 18 article highlighting the shortage of medical providers on Maui (Is there a doctor in the house on Maui?). Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), including nurse practitioners (N.P.), are the fastest growing provider group in the medical field, and as your article briefly alluded to, they are one significant solution to this statewide shortage problem that should have more of a spotlight.

Nurse practitioners have full practice and prescriptive authority in the state of Hawaii, meaning they can practice independently and without supervision from a medical doctor (M.D.). They can work as primary care providers or become certified in specialty care areas. Often, patients find nurse practitioners to be more approachable, relatable and engaged in their health-care needs compared to medical doctors or physician assistants.

Maui Health System, Kaiser and Maui Medical Group should actively continue hiring more nurse practitioners, especially those educated and trained in Hawaii who are already familiar with the unique medical landscape.

Residency training programs for new nurse practitioners are mushrooming throughout the nation and have proven to be effective, efficient and successful. If local medical organizations establish such programs — be they in primary or specialty care tracks — they can potentially retain more providers, save on costs and fill the shortage gap, which will otherwise only get larger as our community population grows.

Bryan Chin, APRN