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A Milestone for the Nursing Community: 50 Years of Nurse Practitioners


November 2, 2015 For the last 50 years, nurse practitioners have provided top-notch primary, acute and specialty care to patients in need. Now, in 2015, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reports that more than 205,000 nurse practitioners are licensed in the US. http://www.southuniversity.edu/whoweare/newsroom/blog/a-milestone-for-the-nursing-community-50-years-of-nurse-practitioners

A Milestone for the Nursing Community: 50 Years of Nurse Practitioners

For the last 50 years, nurse practitioners have provided top-notch primary, acute and specialty care to patients in need. Now, in 2015, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reports that more than 205,000 nurse practitioners are licensed in the US.

“The role has evolved quite a bit,” says Donna McHaney, DNP, RN, APRN, FNP-BC, an Assistant Professor and Program Director for Graduate Nursing Programs at South University, Online Programs. “We’ve been accepted in more states as primary care providers. Our role has evolved with nurse practitioners being more independent with more autonomy in our work, having our own practices, and making important contributions in the arena of primary care and patient-centered care.”

Today, as a key part of our nation’s healthcare system, nurse practitioners evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in clinics, private practices, hospitals and more. With prescription privileges in all 50 states, the average nurse practitioner in 2012 wrote 19 prescriptions a day, totaling more than 733 million prescriptions in one year. Nurse practitioners also strive to guide their patients toward healthier lifestyles through one-on-one health and disease education and counseling.

“I think the biggest hurdle for us was getting buy-in from the rest of the medical field that we can do what we’ve been trained to do, that we are good at what we’re doing, and we can provide that same quality care as they do,” she says. “Developing that trust took a long time.”

“Another hurdle has been just having access to be able to provide that care, because we have states where a lot of us still have to have collaborating physicians to practice with,” Dr. McHaney adds. “That’s still a hurdle we’re trying to overcome.”

However, numerous peer-reviewed articles have concluded that nurse practitioners provide primary care that is equivalent or superior to care provided by physicians, and their importance in healthcare continues to expand, despite some states restricting their scope of practice.

In rural communities and other medically underserved areas, nurse practitioners play an especially important role in delivering accessible primary care at a time when the population is aging and the need for care providers is growing. According to predictions from the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2025, the nation will face a shortage of 46,000-90,000 physicians, including a shortage of 12,000-31,000 primary care physicians.

“There are a lot of people in the United States who still lack access to care,” says Dr. McHaney. “We need a lot more advanced practice nurses out there. We need them to help us continue to change healthcare and to give access to people who haven’t had access to care.”

South University is proud to have helped many nursing students prepare for careers as nurse practitioners. You can read several of their stories on our blog or learn about our programs in the College of Nursing and Public Health on our website.

To every nurse and healthcare provider, we thank you and celebrate you for your hard work and commitment to the field! As always, we remain dedicated to providing a high-quality educational experience for our students who will join you in providing care to communities and individuals across the country!

The information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of South University.

The information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of South University.

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Administrative office: South University, 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah, GA 31406-4805 © 2015 South University. All rights reserved. Our email address is materialsreview@southuniversity.edu.

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