Nurse Practitioners and Primary Care Practices

Nurse practitioners are rapidly establishing a presence in hospitals, medical facilities, long-term care residences and clinics across the country. These advanced practice nurses provide medical care that rivals that of a primary care physician, with the focus of a nurse on whole-person wellness. Depending on the state, Nurse Practitioners can have the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, prescribe medication and perform many of the functions of a doctor.

Because of the rigorous education and clinical experience required of Nurse Practitioners, several states have begun to allow independent Nurse Practitioner practices to provide health care and treatment to patients without the supervision of a doctor. Many states and medical programs like Medicare see the academics of a Nurse Practitioner program as comparable to that of a medical student, whether from a college, university or online nursing school, and enjoy the lower cost and easier access to healthcare that Nurse Practitioners provide to the public.

Independent Nurse Practitioners can help with the shortage experienced in the health care sector by fulfilling the role as a nurse as well as that of the physician, particularly in the "primary care" role. Although Nurse Practitioners have less academic and training requirements than doctors, it is believed that the requirements of a Master of Science in Nursing degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice are sufficient to fulfill the role of a general practitioner. More insurance companies, including Medicare, are paying Nurse Practitioners for primary care services, demonstrating a belief in the quality of care provided by Nurse Practitioners.

Much like a primary care physician, a Nurse Practitioner can diagnose and provide treatment for general health concerns. Once an issue is out of the scope of the Nurse Practitioner, referrals to specialists are made, working within the guidelines of "managed care medicine." This medical care even extends into obstetrics and gynecology, where Nurse-Midwives are allowed to practice much like an OB/GYN and provide women's health services without the supervision of a doctor, or Pediatrics and Neonatology, among other disciplines.

Primary care physicians are a large part of the growing health care provider shortage. As medical costs skyrocket and the availability of general care practitioners decreases, Nurse Practitioners are eager to fill these roles in an autonomous manner; providing quality healthcare to patients. Independent Nurse Practitioner practices are quickly becoming a viable option for advanced practice nurses with a graduate-level education across the country, reducing the worry for patients that require medical care during a health care crisis and establishing these medical professionals as leaders in medicine.

 Nursing School Spotlight

Nurse EducatorGrand Canyon University's Nurse Practitioner MSN program offers an online classroom format that has been perfected and proven effective for thousands of successful online graduates. Attend class anytime, anywhere, 24/7.

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Second Degree and RN to BSN Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accelerated nursing programs are quickly growing in popularity as a solution to help with the nursing shortage felt across the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 283,000 jobs have been added in the healthcare sector within the last year, and it is expected that most of those jobs require Registered Nurses to fill the open positions in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other medical organizations. Meeting this demand through accelerated nursing programs can not only increase the availability of quality health care, but also provide better career options for those already within the medical field or for other professionals seeking a new career entirely.

Students currently working as a Registered Nurse can qualify for accelerated RN to BSN nursing programs. Those with a completed degree in a non-nursing concentration, such as a Bachelor of Arts degree, can enter into "second degree" accelerated nursing programs. Through accelerated nursing programs, many of the general or core education requirements can be transferred and applied, eliminating much of the time involved in pursuing a new degree. These programs are fast-paced, building on prior education experience and offering the same amount of clinical instruction as with standard Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs; some "fast track" programs can even be completed in just under a year.

Since most students in accelerated programs are older, the success rate for employment as a well-rounded nurse is higher. Hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities take this trend into consideration, welcoming the life experience as well as academic and clinical knowledge of these graduates. Competition for accelerated nursing programs can be intense, and a high GPA and ability to learn in a challenging environment may be factors in the selection process.

Solving the nursing shortage is a multi-faceted problem that addresses issues of an aging population, health care practices and the ability of students and nurse educators to succeed within a nursing school program. Quickly building upon prior experience in school, career and life, accelerated nursing programs are rapidly introducing experienced nurses into the workforce.

Accelerated Nursing Programs, Fast Track Nursing Degree Incentives

The national nursing shortage is in full swing, with almost all states reporting a high need for qualified nurses to provide medical care. In response to this demand for nurses, many states, colleges and universities are offering incentives and programs for nursing school students, including discounts on tuition, flexible, online nursing degrees and accelerated nursing programs.

Accelerated nursing programs help those interested in nursing achieve the necessary classroom and/or clinical experience needed to begin a career in nursing at a faster pace. Typically, these students have already obtained a Bachelor’s Degree but in a non-nursing concentration, such as a Bachelor of Arts, and are able to build upon academic and life experience in order to fulfill the remainder of requirements of the accelerated nursing program. For the currently employed Registered Nurse with clinical experience, accelerated RN to BSN programs are available in order to fulfill academic requirements of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

With several options to choose from, accelerated programs can help a nursing school student obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in under two years; "fast track" programs can even decrease that time to 12 – 18 months. The requirements for admission to these programs are strict, as the curriculum and clinical instruction demand students with proven motivation and ability to finish the program. Much of the time, students in accelerated nursing programs are considered non-traditional, or are interested in beginning a second career as a nurse, both of which increase the motivation and determination to excel within the programs and eventual nursing positions.

Eliminating much of the time involved with an entry-level Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, accelerated nursing programs are becoming increasingly popular in hospitals and other medical facilities. Many of these hospitals are partnering with colleges and universities to provide tuition discounts and other incentives for students in exchange for a commitment to work within the sponsoring facility upon graduation.

Nurse Retention Strategies

The heart of many hospitals, clinics and medical facilities is the nursing staff that provides direct care to patients facing injury or illness. These women and men are on the front lines of health care, interacting with patients, family members, physicians and other medical staff, helping to coordinate and provide quality medical care. The demands of a nursing career can quickly lead to burnout and dissatisfaction with the role of the nurse. This, combined with the national nursing shortage, is causing medical facilities and hospital administrations to examine nurse retention strategies.

Nursing retention not only includes strategies to keep those within the age of retirement, but also seeks to find solutions to the high turnover rate among first-year nurses. As staff is limited, problems arise for these nurses including poor communication among co-workers and management, unfair workload distribution, difficulty with work-life balance concerns and scheduling issues. Many nurses find that the high level of stress attributed to nursing is directly affected by the lack of empathy from management and administration within the hospital. With a lack of educational opportunities within hospital and medical systems, many nurses find dissatisfaction with the level of career advancement available.

In order to address these concerns, medical facilities, clinics and hospitals are seeking better ways to accommodate nurses’ needs in terms of burnout, mentors, flexible scheduling, mentorship and professional development. Reducing nursing burnout can be as simple as providing a therapeutic break room or offering cross training opportunities in different areas of nursing. Establishing a mentor and cooperative leadership team can give a nurse the confidence that his or her concerns will be taken seriously. Providing training and education, including tuition assistance for nursing programs or online nursing schools can give a nurse the challenge for a brighter future, while feeling supported by the staff of the medical facility.

Nursing retention will continue to be a concern as more nurses retire due to age or age-related health concerns. By providing the means of a long and satisfactory nursing career, hospitals, clinics and medical facilities are able to retain nurses for longer periods of time and increase the overall quality of health care given to the community.

Advanced Career Opportunities with a Master of Science in Nursing Degree

Registered nurses are on the front lines of healthcare daily. These medical professionals serve several roles within hospitals, clinics and physician offices, from hands-on treatment and evaluation of patients to diagnostics and everywhere in between. The opportunities for nurses increase as higher levels of education are attained, especially a when it comes to graduate degrees in nursing. Advanced degrees in nursing provide a means into highly specialized nursing careers like Nurse Educator, Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Leader and more.

Norwich University offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree online in order to meet the needs of the busy nurse who wishes to increase the level of education already attained through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This program is given in a flexible, online format, helping nurses fit career and education goals within the confines of current job and life obligations.

A Master of Science in Nursing degree from at an accredited university can be completed in 18-24 months. The curriculum helps develop leadership and business skills in nursing, gives insight into the connection between management and patient care, sharpens skills regarding health care delivery and outcomes and enables graduates to participate in health care policy concerns, as well as issues regarding the nursing profession. This program also allows for two concentrations in education or administration, further providing students with the knowledge to enter into advanced practice nursing positions.

The high demand for qualified and dedicated nurses in hospitals, medical facilities and clinics across the country has opened up numerous possibilities for nurses to attain a long-lasting and satisfying position in nursing. A graduate of the Master of Science in Nursing program can easily apply the knowledge and skills needed from an advanced practice nurse to treat, diagnose and otherwise care for specialized populations through administration, education or general nursing roles. This degree also enables nurses to continue to purse educational goals such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice or PhD in Nursing.

The Benefits of Telehealth Devices

Technology continues to conquer all aspects of life, bringing innovative tools, education and information into homes and businesses around the world. Communication through technology is nothing new; as telephones have evolved into cellular phones, smartphone and mobile devices, the benefits of this communication go much further than chatting with friends and family or enjoying a conference call while commuting. Technology has allowed healthcare to reach into the homes of patients through Telehealth devices; tools that can provide medical data to doctors, nurses and medical professionals, as well as help patients understand treatment plans and other health care options.

Telehealth can be as simple as a phone call between a patient and nurse that discusses symptoms and treatment options. More advanced devices include the ability of nurses and medical staff to monitor oxygen levels, pulse, blood pressure and other vital statistics. Some Telehealth devices deliver “face to face” discussions via video chat between doctor, nurse and/or patient, potentially reducing hospitalization rates and decreasing emergency room visits. Through Telehealth monitoring, the state of the patient’s health or recovery can be quickly determined, easing the minds of doctors, nurses, patients and loved ones.

In an educational setting, whether in an online nursing school, at a patient’s bedside or within a doctor’s office, Telehealth devices provide information about diagnosis and disease management, treatment plans and healthcare information. The administration of hospitals, clinics and medical facilities benefit financially from the use of Telehealth devices that quickly and easily record data from patients, doctors and nurses, reducing costs related to paperwork and even preventing costly mistakes that could lead to malpractice issues.

Nurses and medical professionals are quickly learning to integrate the use of Telehealth devices into the healthcare profession. Many doctors offering “concierge” services are able to do so through the use of text messaging, e-mail and phone calls. Nurses with experience in Informatics and technology are able to quickly assess patients and provide better quality care. These devices are enabling patients to remain at home while recovering from illness or injury, alleviating medical costs and granting a better quality of life to the elderly, disabled or ill. As technology continues to improve, the uses for Telehealth devices can only provide better healthcare options and information for medical professionals, patients and loved ones.

Western Governors University Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics

The healthcare system is rapidly becoming digital through the use of electronic health records, telehealth devices and information sharing both publically and privately. The information that is recorded and utilized through Health Informatics helps to keep patient records up to date, giving medical professionals the best information needed in order to provide quality treatment to patients. Nurses and medical professionals are expected to understand the latest information technology available to Health Informatics professionals in order to compete within the field of nursing, including software, instruments and diagnostic tools. A Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics from Western Governors University gives students the necessary education and skills to work within this technology-based medical field.

Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics from Western Governors University offers an extensive program that not only fulfills the requirements of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, but also includes specialized education and training in Health Informatics. Students in this program can expect to study within its nine domains consisting of liberal arts, foundations, Health Informatics fundamentals, biomedical sciences, information technology fundamentals and management, organizational behavior and management, health information technology and systems and health information and information management. Included in the Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics from Western Governors University are certifications in CompTIA A+ and CIW Database Design Specialist and students are also eligible to apply for the AHIMA Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credentialing exam.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that career growth for those in Health Informatics will grow as a faster-than-average rate due to the need for accurate medical records, management and research. With a degree that specializes in Health Informatics, graduates may pursue a career in health care, education and corporate settings or even as a consultant to hospitals, medical technology or software development companies. The medical field is moving ahead with the help of information technology and informatics, and those with the specialized training required to use and understand these innovations can be assured of a stable career for years to come.

What is a Virtual Nurse?

The job of a nurse requires a high level of dedication to the care and wellness of others. Nurses work long hours in order to provide this care, many times at the detriment of their own health and wellness, sometimes leading to exhaustion and burn out. Other nurses may be able to work, but find that family or other situations require a different way of providing care and earning income. These situations, and others, provide a way for nurses to explore alternative nursing careers such as consultants or as virtual nurses.

Virtual nurses are employed by a variety of companies and organizations that rely on the advice of skilled medical professionals. Using technology including computers, the Internet and video equipment, a virtual nurse can help patients, physicians, insurance companies and hospitals provide care over the phone or through virtual triage sessions online. Virtual nurses can be generalists or specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, acute care or any advanced practice specialty. Nurses with experience in rural health are also candidates to become virtual nurses, especially within underserved populations or locations where non-emergency medical care is less available than an urban area.

A virtual nurse is required to fulfill the same education requirements as a nurse working within a hospital, clinic or medical facility. This includes nursing certifications and degrees earned from a college, university or online nursing school. Most companies and organizations that hire virtual nurses look for candidates with experience “in the field” rather than new graduates with little experience. Other qualifications may include certifications in informatics, experience with telehealth devices, a professional demeanor and proven time management skills.

Working from home is far from a luxury-filled lifestyle. A virtual nurse must remain available and professional when “on the clock,” and may be required to work at different times throughout the day or week, depending on the location and type of virtual nurse position. These nurses, while able to reduce the stress related to commutes, work a more flexible schedule and have a potentially stronger work-life balance, are still held to the same standards, if not higher, than a nurse working in a hospital, physician’s office or other medical establishment.

For a nurse facing burn out, exhaustion or seeking a way to better balance family and career, virtual nurse positions may provide a solution. As the dependence on technology climbs, and more people become comfortable with medical advice, follow-up care and other health issues relayed over the phone and Internet, the demand for virtual nurses will continue to grow.