More Recognition in Nurse Managed Clinics

“Studies have shown no difference in outcomes when patients are treated by a nurse practitioner or a physician.”

This quote comes from Courtney H. Lyder, dean of the UCLA School of Nursing, reported in Heral Online. As the shortage of primary care physicians increases, the importance of having nurse-managed clinics becomes evident.

Nurse Practitioners are highly advanced nurses, with an average of 10+ years of clinical work as registered nurses, and an advanced academic degree (a Masters of a Doctoral degree), who have taken specialized courses in various nursing fields. Nurse Practitioners are able to prescribe prescribing or renewing prescriptions for most drugs, perform medical examinations of various types, order blood tests, and provide many of the tasks which are usually done by primary-care doctors.

While in California the important work of Nurse Practitioners seems to be widely recognized, in other states they cannot yet perform their work independently. In Texas, for example, they can only work under the supervision of a medical doctor.

“As we celebrate these vital healthcare providers during National Nurse Practitioner Week, November 11-17, it is also a great time to truly acknowledge their growing importance within the changing healthcare landscape,” said Lyder. “Removing outdated barriers and allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their experience and education will serve the industry, the profession and most important the patient in the best possible manner.”

Overcoming Nursing School Faculty Shortage

As the shortage in nurses grows, the salaries paid for nurses, especially those with advanced skills, will also grow. Nurses with advanced degrees are attracted to these high-paid clinical jobs rather than serving as educators for the next-generation nurses. This creates a vicious circle, as without adequate numbers of faculty members the nursing schools cannot admit all the students they want, and so less nurses are prepared to meet the markets demand.

Nursing schools which have to turn away many of their potential students are finding creative ways to overcome their faculty shortage.

One way is to pushing the age of retirement of their senior faculty members. Senior faculty who are approaching retirement age are offered good conditions, such as sharing their full-time position with other senior faculty members so that each of them can continue to work only half-time but still have all the benefits that are normally given only to full-time workers.

Another method is to pay clinical institutions for the time of some of their specialists, so that these specialists keep their positions as clinical nurses with all the benefits of these jobs, but spend some of their time teaching nursing students. This way the students gain from having teachers who are well immersed in the material they are teaching, and the university or college does not have to allocate another full-time position.

Other methods of finding more faculty members is finding grants for advanced-degree students, so that their studies are paid for in return to a commitment to teaching in this institution after graduation.

More ways of filling the faculty shortage is using advanced students for giving some of the clinical courses, or offering some the courses online so that the teachers can be living in different locations.