November 13 through 19 is 2011's National Nurse Practitioners Week. In
the 1960's, there was a movement in medicine toward specialization and
many physicians chose to leave primary care in preference of specialty
practice. In 1965, Dr. Loretta C. Ford and (pediatrician) Dr. Henry K.
Silver launched the first nurse practitioner program, for pediatric
nurses, at the University of Colorado.
This training eventually evolved into graduate education, and today, is
expanding into clinical doctorate education. Nurse practitioners not
only were able to fill a gap in primary care, but to also lead nursing
and health care research, expand nursing practice theory, and improve
patient care access and outcomes.
Nurse practitioners are a valuable and reliable way to expand primary
care and decrease health care costs. "We provide care and patient
outcomes are equivalent to or better than that of other health care
providers," says Cynthia Beecher, ARNP, a nurse practitioner at KGH
Urgent Care West. "The nurse practitioner workforce continues to grow,
with over 106,000 nurses now in this role, and they are especially
important in rural and underserved areas. In fact, the American Academy
of Family Physicians predicts that by 2020, there will be a shortage of
40,000 family physicians, so nurse practitioners will be even more in
Nurse practitioners have differentiated themselves from other clinicians
by focusing on the whole person when treating specific health problems,
as well as educating the patient on the effects those problems will
have on them. More and more consumers are choosing nurse practitioners
as their "partner" in healthcare because, in addition to providing
high-quality primary, acute and specialty healthcare, nurse
practitioners empower patients to maintain and improve their health by
providing individualized and comprehensive health education and
counseling. They focus on promoting health and preventing disease,
which can reduce healthcare costs for patients.
A report was recently issued by the Institute on Medicare and Medicaid
Payment Issues, together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that
strongly recommended advanced practice registered nurses, including
nurse practitioners, be permitted to practice the full scope of their
abilities - and that unnecessary barriers to that practice be removed.
"We want to thank KGH for their continued support of advanced registered nurse practitioners in our community," she concludes.