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Why we Celebrate Nurse Practitioners Week

Mayor Kevin England of Chubbuck and Mayor Brian Blad of Pocatello give a proclamation for Nurse Practitioners Week at the ISU College of Nursing with Dean Anita Smith on Monday, November 12, 2018

November 11-17, 2018 - POCATELLO, ID

Every year the American Association of Nurse Practitioners holds a week long celebration to recognize the efforts and contributions of nurse practitioners. This year Nurse Practitioners Week is November 11th thru the 17th. Nurse practitioners (NPs) provide approximately 1 billion annual patient visits, and the leadership at the College of Nursing at Idaho State University (ISU) is pleased to recognize them for their hard work and dedication.

A nurse practitioner has received a doctoral degree in nursing practice.  NPs are different from nurses in that they have received additional education and more years of clinical work with patients than nurses have. This additional education and clinical training allows an NP to gain more experience in treating and diagnosing their patients NPs are authorized to see  their own patients without the supervision of a physician, prescribe medication, and can even own their own practice. While NPs are not physicians, because they do not complete medical school, they can still diagnose and treat patients, filling a gap in Idaho and nationwide for states struggling to meet patient demand. Idaho ranks 49th in the nation for primary care physicians per capita, and nurse practitioners help decrease that shortage.

Since the 1960s, NPs have been filling the primary care gap in the U.S., which continues to grow due to an aging population and fewer physicians entering primary care programs. In 2017, only 15 percent of physicians entered primary care programs while 87 percent of NPs were certified in primary care. Also, the first NPs were trained in certificate programs, while today, nearly all NPs hold graduate degrees. With this level of expertise, it is clear why millions of patients choose to see NPs.

Nurse practitioners are essential to the healthcare system, they provide outstanding care, cost effective care to patients all over the world, but mostly in the United States. National Nurse Practitioners Week is meant to bring attention to this work. “This is a time that, nationally, is an opportunity to recognize nurse practitioners and their contribution to the health of patients everywhere,” said Melody Weaver, PhD, an Assistant Professor for the Graduate Programs at the College of Nursing.

Nurse practitioners have been making great strides since 2007. In 10 years there has been a 38 percent increase in their mean hourly pay. There was also a 30 percent increase in their annual salary in the last 10 years. There is a predicted 36 percent job growth rate for nurse practitioners, nationwide.

Nurse practitioners are also in demand in the state of Idaho, especially in rural areas. The more NPs Idaho has, the more opportunities there are to improve access to care for patients.  When a Nurse practitioner takes care of a patient they do a more holistic approach where they examine everything that could be causing the issue, they look at the whole body instead of diagnosing and treating one particular problem.

At a proclamation ceremony on Monday, November 12, Dr. Anita Smith, Dean for the College of Nursing highlighted the extensive contributions of  nurse practitioners to the field of healthcare. In addition, organizers of the proclamation ceremony took time to pay tribute to all of the veterans of the United States Armed Forces, specifically those who are faculty and staff members at ISU,  in conjunction with Veteran’s Day. “Nurse Practitioner Week and Veteran's Day are in same week and what an honor to thank all who served to care for our nation and communities. In the College of Nursing, we are honored to have nurse faculty who served our country in multiple roles and continue to share their leadership and service in the classroom mentoring our future nurse leaders,” says Smith, who also served in the United States Navy.

During the ceremony, College of Nursing faculty and students were recognized and honored.

-Dr. Anita Smith, RN, CNS  Navy (Dean)

-Vernon Kubiak, DNP, PMHNP Navy

-Gina Clarkson, PhD, NNNP  Air Force

-Kristy Crownhart, DNP, FNP Air Force

-Elizabeth Damstrom, RN, MSN  Navy

As part of the ceremony, Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad and Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England came to the Beckley Nursing Building  in Pocatello to proclaim the importance of Nurse practitioners. The proclamation was designed to acquaint local citizens with the role of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, personalized health care and to highlight the value of choosing an NP for primary, acute and specialty care.

To learn more about NPs, log on to the AANP website at aanp.org. AANP is the largest professional membership organization for NPs in all specialties and includes more than 90,000 individual members and 200 organizations. To locate an NP in your community, visit npfinder.com.

For more NPWeek coverage, visit the College of Nursing on Facebook.

Written by: Lindsay Taylor, College of Nursing Career Path Intern