Nurse Practitioner Week takes place annually in the second week of November, fromNovember 6 to November 12 this year, to recognize these incredible healthcare providers and raise awareness of the powerful role they play in ensuring general health and well-being. Can you believe that the nurse practitioner profession has been in existence for 56 years now? Nurse practitioners are highly educated and trained medical professionals who are almost like doctors. In addition to their fundamental roles as registered nurses, they can provide primary care, counseling, diagnosis, offer health education, and write prescriptions.
History of Nurse Practitioner Week
The nurse practitioner profession started in 1965 to respond to the increasing demand for primary care providers in the United States. The government recently expanded Medicare and Medicaid to cover disadvantaged people, leading to a mismatch in the number of available physicians and the large population of people now qualified for primary care.
The first nurse practitioner program (NP) was launched at the University of Colorado in 1965 by NP pioneers Loretta Ford, EdD, PNP, FAAN, and Henry Silver, MD. It started as a certificate program, but in the early 1970s, the university upgraded it to a full master’s degree program.
In the 1970s, the NP program, primarily focused on pediatrics, was expanded to other areas, including family NP programs and adult NP programs. By 1973, the NP programs had grown to 65. The following year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) established the Council of Primary Care Nurse Practitioners to legitimize the role of Nurse Practitioners. By 1977, the ANA was offering NP certification exams. Before the end of the decade, the number of NPs had increased to 15,000.
In 1985, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) was founded and gained 100 members at the end of its first year. The government began investing in the Nurse Practitioner profession, with $100 million spent on NP education by 1987.
Despite its acceptance by the government, nurse practitioners were not legally recognized as providers, which restricted them from accessing reimbursement. The NP leaders began working with various stakeholders to ensure NPs were eligible for reimbursement. That led to the Omnibus Reconciliation Act being passed by Congress in 1989 and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
Although nurse practitioners are legally allowed to practice in all 50 states, some restrictions are still placed on their range of practice, even today. Such rules led to the AANP creating National Nurse Practitioner Week in 2004 to celebrate the importance of nurse practitioners and get lawmakers to remove the barriers to practice.
Nurse Practitioner Week timeline
Due to the rising demand for primary care providers, Loretta Ford, EdD, PNP, FAAN, and Henry Silver, MD, founded the first NP program at the University of Colorado.
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is established to provide a unified voice for NPs of all specialties.
Nurse practitioners are allowed to legally practice in all 50 states of the U.S. by 2000.
The National Nurse Practitioner Week is recognized in a proclamation by the U.S. Congress.
Nurse Practitioner Week FAQs
What is the theme of the Nurse Practitioner Week 2021?
There is no theme for Nurse Practitioner Week. However, the AANP has released a proclamation document that everyone interested in celebrating Nurse Practitioner Week can present to a public official to sign to recognize the occasion.
What nurse practitioner specialty is the highest paid?
Certified registered nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid nurse practitioner specialty with a median hourly wage of $87.
How many years does it take to become an NP?
It typically takes between six and eight years to complete the necessary education and training to become a nurse practitioner. That’s if you have at least completed high school.
How To Observe Nurse Practitioner Week
Say thank you
The simplest way you can celebrate Nurse Practitioner Week is to say “thank you” to any nurse practitioner you know and let them know you appreciate the work they are doing. You can show that by sending them a handwritten thank-you note, a small gift, or even taking them to breakfast or dinner.
Get a public official to sign the Nurse Practitioner Week Proclamation
Each year, the AANP releases a Nurse Practitioner Week proclamation for public officials to sign to officially recognize “the countless contributions NPs have made over the past half-century and will continue to make on behalf of the health and well-being of citizens.” Go to the AANP website, download the proclamation, send it to your local public officials, and get them to sign it. If possible, you can try reaching out to your state governor.
Organize an event
Another way to celebrate Nurse Practitioner Week is to organize an event if you have the capacity. This can be a fundraising drive, health-awareness program, or a local luncheon that brings together charitable and health organizations in your community. Regardless of the type of event, let the theme center around the importance of NPs to the community.
5 Interesting Facts About Nurse Practitioners
They are different from registered nurses
While they are both nurses, NPs have higher training and education than registered nurses.
They have prescriptive rights
Nurse practitioners have the legal right to prescribe medications in every U.S. state, including Washington D.C.
They can practice in almost all specialties
Nurse practitioners have the required training to specialize in almost every medical specialty and sub-specialty, including mental health, cardiology, neurology, and orthopedics.
They can practice without supervision
Nurse practitioners are legally allowed to fully practice in 23 states of the United States without a physician’s supervision.
They attend to over 1.06 billion patients
A recent report revealed that nurse practitioners in the U.S. see or care for over 1.06 billion patients in a year.
Why Nurse Practitioner Week is Important
Nurse practitioners are essential to the nation’s health and well-being
With over 1 billion patients attended to in a year, we can evidently see the importance of nurse practitioners. Additionally, NPs help reduce the cost of healthcare and risks of advanced health complications. So, use this and every Nurse Practitioner Week to appreciate a known NP.
It raises awareness for the need to remove barriers to practice for nurse practitioners
Out of the 50 states of the U.S., NPs can only practice without supervision from a physician in 23 states. The results of that are reduced access to quality primary healthcare to disadvantaged individuals and more pressure on physicians, specialists, and primary care doctors. By removing these legal barriers, the U.S. can prevent the projected shortages of about 122,000, 55,000, and 67,000 in physicians, primary care doctors, and specialists, respectively.
They provide quality healthcare services
According to a survey by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, which reviewed patients’ perception of the clinician’s listening skills and perceived respect, nurse practitioners received a score of 9.8 out of 10, which is comparatively higher than that of physicians. Also, patients that receive treatments or consultation from NPs have been known to have less risk of severe health conditions in the future. That shows that nurse practitioners’ level of healthcare services may be better than that offered by physicians or other clinicians.
Nurse Practitioner Week dates