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4 Facts about the Education of Nurse Practitioners

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The legislative battle between nurse practitioners and physicians over the NP’s role in healthcare is one of the media’s favorite healthcare stories of the last few years. We’ve covered it extensively on this blog, of course, but to put it concisely, NPs want to be given more responsibilities within medicine and in some cases, be allowed to run their own practices, while physicians want NPs to always have a certain degree of physician oversight.

Regardless of where readers of this blog may fall on the issue, it helps to make sure the discussion is based on correct information. To that end, over at Physicians Practice, Angela Golden, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, shares “Ten Things Physicians Should Know about Nurse Practitioners.”

We’ll be covering these 10 things, but let’s zero in today on the first point Golden makes, since it forms the basis of a primary argument many medical professionals pose against expanding NP responsibilities: Nurse practitioners undergo rigorous education beyond that of registered nurses.

In the debate between physicians and NPs, it is often said that NPs don’t have as much education as physicians. There is merit to this argument, of course, but that argument shouldn’t be made by way of diminishing the extensive education NPs actually do receive. In the media coverage of this aspect of the battle between physicians and NPs, much nuance seems to be lost.

Here then are four facts, courtesy of Golden, regarding the education given to NPs:

1. “Nurse practitioners are educated using the nursing model” and “have achieved licensure and credentialing well beyond their roles as registered nurses.”

While every NP must earn a graduate degree, most don’t stop there, adding post-master’s certificates and doctoral degrees to their academic repertoire.

2. “NP education provides theoretical and evidence-based clinical knowledge and learning experiences.”

According to Golden, “It emphasizes development of clinical and professional experience necessary for comprehensive primary-care and specialty-care practice in a variety of settings.”

3. The reason the services of NPs are being sought out today has a great deal to do with the patient-centered focus of their education.

“A distinguishing component of NP education is its concentration on the specialized needs of patient groups,” Golden writes. “For example, primary-care focused pediatric NPs dedicate the entirety of their didactic and clinical education to the needs of pediatric clients.”

4. “NP education is 100 percent competency-based.”

NPs don’t have to just log hours to prove this competency either, she adds. “Instead, NPs must achieve knowledge and skill competency to progress in their programs of study.”

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, but in the meantime, as physicians and advanced practitioners looking for jobs, which nuances of the NP/physician legislative conflict do you feel is lost in the media coverage?

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