The Development of Nurse Practitioners

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The development of nurse practitioners commenced in the late 1950s, physicians mentored nurses who had clinical experience. More physicians began to specialize in medicine leading many areas into a shortage in primary care. Starting in 1965, Medicaid and Medicare programs provided coverage for low income families, elderly, and people with disabilities, increasing the demand of primary care services.

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Due to so many physicians not specializing in primary care anymore they were unable to meet the demand. Nurses believed they were qualified to step up and expand their role to meet the need. Two individuals by the name of Loretta Ford and Henry Silver created the first training program for nurse practitioners. The program’s studies focused on health promotion, disease prevention, and the health of children and families (“How Nurse Practitioners Obtained Provider Status: Lessons for Pharmacists”). Society’s demand for primary care services and nurses’ potential were the reason for the development of nurse practitioners. More than half a century later their roles have branched out from primary to also acute and specialty care for patients of all ages. They are important to having a healthy community and their positions will continually need to be fulfilled. By 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the nurse practitioner profession will have grown by 36% compared to 37% for physician assistants and 13% for physicians (“Number of Nurse Practitioners Hits New Record High”). However, there are many advantages and disadvantages of being a nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioners are constantly needed because of their abilities to do a gamut of tasks and primary care services. Alternatively, a career as a nurse practitioner has several disadvantages. Other than the extensive training, finding a job after graduating can be very difficult because many employers look for experienced providers. The more diverse background, the more likely they are going to be hired. Not to mention they work long hours and there may be on-call expectations, Dr. Stephen Ferrara says, “I am not the biggest fan of being tied to a pager/cellphone.” (“The Pros and Cons of Being a Nurse Practitioner”). They work at least 40 hours including weekends and night shifts if they work at hospitals. Long hours may affect the nurse’s family and social life. Nurse practitioners have more control over their hours when they independently practice or work in non-emergency clinics.

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