Estimates of shortages for both nurses (RNs) and primary care doctors are painting bleak pictures for the future of U.S. healthcare. As the healthcare provider shortage crisis looms, nurse practitioners offer the high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered services needed to help solve the increasing demand for healthcare in the United States.
In the fall of 2009 the University of Michigan-Flint began to offer an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Offered through the School of Health Professions and Studies, the DNP provides the skills necessary for advanced nursing practice in primary health care. This four year, part-time program is taught in a distance-learning (online) format with clinical courses arranged in local area. The students are educated to be independent licensed health care providers. They provide primary care for persons in a variety of settings and help combat the shortage of primary care providers in the U.S. today.
Nurse practitioners assess and manage both medical and nursing problems in a variety of specialty areas such as family, adult, pediatric, women’s health, school health, occupational health, mental health, emergency, and acute care. Their practice emphasizes health promotion and maintenance, disease prevention and diagnosis, and management of acute and chronic illness. Nurse practitioners serve as primary care providers and consultants for individuals, families, and communities in a variety of ambulatory and inpatient settings.
Responsibilities of nurse practitioners include: taking histories; conducting physical examinations; ordering, performing, and interpreting appropriate diagnostic and laboratory tests; prescribing pharmacological agents, treatments, and non-pharmacological therapies for the management of the conditions they diagnose. Teaching and counseling are major components of a nurse practitioner’s role. They also conduct clinical research.
“National Nurse Practitioner Week, is a time to celebrate these unique healthcare providers, and to remind lawmakers of the importance of allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their experience and education,” said Constance Creech, director of UM-Flint’s Nursing Graduate Programs.