In a move that signifies a growing recognition among national policy makers of the expanding role of nurse practitioners in the primary care workforce, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has changed its policy to grant nurse-managed health clinics recognition as Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).

The first nurse-managed health clinics (NMHCs) to receive PCMH recognition are all members of National Nursing Centers Consortium and Pennsylvania’s Chronic Care Initiative. The outstanding performance of NMHCs is conclusive evidence that nurse-led health care practices can function as well as PCMHs.

The eight nurse-managed clinics that received certification include: Project Salud of La Comunidad Hispana; Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University, Health Annex and Abbottsford Falls Family Practice and Counseling of the Family Practice and Counseling Network; PHMC Health Connection, Rising Sun Health Center, and Mary Howard Health Center of Public Health Management Corporation; and the Children’s Health Center of VNA. All of these clinics are located in Pennsylvania.

Nationally, NMHCs most often operate as safety net clinics that provide primary care, health promotion, and disease prevention services to patients who are least likely to receive ongoing health care. This population includes people of all ages who are uninsured, underinsured, living in poverty, or members of racial and ethnic minority groups. NMHCs are led by nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses who have advanced education and training that allows them to provide a broad scope of health care services similar to those of a primary care physician.

NMHCs also play an important role in health professions education. More than 85 of the nation’s leading nursing schools operate nurse-managed health clinics that serve as clinical education and practice sites for nursing students and other health professionals like medical, pharmacy, social work, and public health students.