Have Nurse Practitioners Reached a Tipping Point?: Interview of a Panel of NP Thought Leaders

Peter I. Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN


Nurs Econ. 2010;28(5):346-349. 

In This Article

Educational Preparation

Buerhaus: How well are education programs preparing NPs to thrive and prosper in the future?

Barton: There is a huge opportunity for those of us in educational settings to push the envelope in the educational settings and inter-professional education, especially as we look at the broader picture of preparing primary care providers and transcend some of the disciplinary boundaries.

Hanson: The evolving Consensus Model change in regulation has set the stage for NP education to prosper. Tighter accreditation, education, and certification standards are positive changes. But, a faculty shortage is the major problem, so new funding streams to prepare faculty are extremely important.

Pilon: Coincidentally, today we began our first attempt at interdisciplinary professional education. There are 40 first-year medical students and APN students from Vanderbilt, as well as students from two local schools of pharmacy and master's students from a nearby school of social work who are beginning a new program where they will be educated together, learn teamwork, and be assigned to community-based practices. The program is funded, in part, by a grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. These students are going to stay together as long as each program is in graduate school, so the APNs will finish after 2 years, medical students will remain for 4 years, and so on. We have no predictions on the outcomes, but this is a huge and exciting experiment. (See http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID=9247)

Buerhaus: Would anyone care to offer some closing thoughts?

Esperat: To achieve greater access and improve quality of care, there needs to be much stronger connections between academic health centers, community-based health practices, and community-based health clinics. There currently is very strong encouragement of academic health centers to extend more significant outreach into their constituent communities and populations.

Hansen-Turton: I believe nurses, doctors, insurers, government, and the media need to reframe the discussion we have been having and focus much more on the end user – the consumer – and pay more attention to how we are planning to provide their health care. We have a highly educated non-physician community we have never properly tapped into to provide access to care. We need to take advantage of all these health care providers, including NPs, pharmacists, physician assistants, psychologists, and many others. If we don't, then the goals of health care reform will never be realized. We have to challenge ourselves, and we have to challenge the physician community to do the same. If we maximize the potential of our existing provider community – physician and non-physician providers – they can all be part of the solution to provide access to care for all Americans.