This National Nurses Week, I’d like to stop and take a moment to say thank you to all of the amazing nurses that I’m fortunate to know. Each and every day, nurses across the country use their incredible skills and compassion to provide comfort during difficult times and care when we’re at our most vulnerable. When I was caring for my parents, nurses became a critical part of our care team. Especially Nurse Sue who visited my parents in their home. While all nurses do incredible work, I’d like to focus today on nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). In big cities, small towns and rural areas, alike, nurse practitioners do remarkable things for the people they serve. They’ve completed advanced education at the master’s or doctoral level, focused in areas like primary and elder care. With this training they care for older Americans in their homes and communities, keeping them out of costly, taxpayer-funded institutions. They handle:
During National Nurses Week, I am making a special effort to say “thank you” to all the nurses in my life, and I invite you to do the same. Each and every day, in communities across the country, nurses help their patients to get and stay well. They use their incredible skills to comfort us in difficult times and care for us when we’re at our most vulnerable.
This month, Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska state legislature made a smart move to remove the barrier that had prevented nurse practitioners from providing complete primary care for their patients. By cutting through the red tape, these elected officials have made more primary care clinicians available for Nebraskans in a variety of settings such as at home and in the community, medical offices, businesses like Walgreens, Target and CVS, and some workplaces. Nineteen other states have similar laws in place.
This month, AARP The Magazine features Danielle Pendergrass, a nurse practitioner living in rural Price, Utah. Before Pendergrass opened her women's health clinic in Price, many women in the area went years without seeing a doctor. The 60-mile trip to the nearest obstetrician-gynecologist was simply too far for many. Since her clinic opened, Pendergrass' patient load has surged to 3,300 people.
National Nurses Week comes to a close today, and I am reminded of my mom's nurse, Sue. As my parents got older and Pop became Mom's caregiver, they needed more help. Sue came once a week for the months following Mom's return home from a rehabilitation center. She checked on Mom's health and trained Pop on how to care for Mom during the week. I am still so grateful for Nurse Sue and all that she did. She was one of the reasons Mom and Pop were able to stay safe at home, where they wanted to be, and out of a costly institution like a nursing home.
A recent survey of doctors and nurses has put the spotlight on a topic that is becoming more important every day -- the shortage of primary care providers and the role for nurses in fixing it.
Let's do the math: We have nearly 30 million uninsured people about to get medical coverage under the health care law come January. And we have a projected shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians by 2020. Add to that the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), with 43,000 members who say they can offer basic care if state laws would just let them set up an independent practice without doctor supervision.
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