Andrea Wirt spends her days at UTMB treating patients for dementia, falls, weight loss, high blood pressure and other common ailments that afflict the elderly. She has a cadre of patients whom she sees regularly, making sure their golden years are as healthy as can be. But Wirt doesn’t have an M.D. after her name. Wirt is a nurse practitioner, and she and her colleagues are expected to play a key part in the health care industry of the future. In a study that could have far-reaching implications for health care in Texas, UTMB researchers found that as states relax laws concerning nurse practitioners, more patients are using them to supply needed primary care. [Note: Paid subscription required.]