It’s National Nurse Practitioner Week 2012!
This week, November 11 -17, 2012, represents National Nurse Practitioner Week! The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners selected the theme, “Your Partner in Health..The Nurse Practitioner. ” I believe the idea of partnering with patients is extremely important and is in fact one of the tenets of my philosophy of practice.
Many nurse practitioner organizations/associations have secured proclamations from their governor to celebrate the contributions of nurse practitioners within their own state. There will also be heightened awareness of nurse practitioner partnered care on various media outlets throughout the week – so be sure to be on the look out inflatable bouncer .
I had the very distinct privilege of meeting and listening to Dr. Loretta Ford speak last month. For those unaware of Dr. Ford, she is considered to be the “mother of nurse practitioning” – the very first person to create the profession along with Dr. Henry Silver. Dr. Ford has won various national and international awards for her role in the creation of the profession of nurse practitioners and is still going strong, now in her 90’s!
What particularly struck me while listening to Dr. Ford were the struggles she encountered while blazing the trail of a new practice model. She faced opposition from her nurse colleagues, from her physician colleagues and everyone else in between. Yet, she did not let that stop her. Dr. Ford and her were beyond committed to the model and had a vision for the role. Fortunately for any current nurse practitioner or nurse practitioner student, they persevered.
One may now think nurse practitioners enjoy acceptance into their provider roles. By far and large, many do. Yet, there are still barriers to practice that do not allow nurse practitioners to practice at the full extent of our education and training. We can look at the patchwork of various state practice acts and find full nurse practitioner autonomy to supervisory and collaborative requirements with physicians.
Evidence is consistently suggesting that nurse practitioners practice in autonomous roles. A recent health policy brief in Health Affairs, “Nurse Practitioners and Primary Care” does just that. Nurse practitioner leaders are quick to point out that no provider is truly “independent” and we all rely on trans-disciplinary support in fully caring for our patients.
One particular challenge facing nurse practitioners today and their patients today is the inability to order home care services for home-bound patients. Legislation was introduced called the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act.
What is the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2011?
Currently, nurse practitioners are not able to certify Medicare beneficiaries’ eligibility for home health care services despite the fact that physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives are recognized Medicare providers. H.R. 2267/S. 227, the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2011, as introduced by Representatives Greg Walden and Allyson Schwartz in the House of Representatives and Senators Susan Collins and Kent Conrad in the Senate, recognizes and authorizes nurse practitioners as eligible health care professionals who can certify home health services under Medicare, ensuring that Medicare patients requiring these services receive optimal continuity of care.
This is a prime example of something that doesn’t make sense. Nurse practitioners are recognized providers of health services by Medicare but aren’t recognized when it comes to ordering home health care – care that is largely nursing in nature! (Please contact your legislator and ask for their co-sponsorship and support of this Bill).
It is essential for current and future nurse practitioners to continue providing the high-quality, culturally competent, and evidence-based care that we do everyday. It is also vital to for us to take on the challenges of the profession and contribute positively to our nation’s health care. I’m certain Dr. Ford would like to see it this way!
Enjoy this short clip of Dr. Ford wishing NPs in New York a Happy Nurse Practitioner Week!