Celebrating National Nurse Practitioner Week


MACOMB, Ill. – One of the fastest growing professions in the United States (currently and future trend) involves health care. The profession though may surprise you.

According to national labor statistics, Nurse Practitioner (NP) jobs are expected to increase anywhere from 28-35 percent or higher in the next decade. To meet the rising demand of a need for primary care providers, more and more health care facilities are turning to nurse practitioners. There are nearly 300,000 nurse practitioners in the United States.

McDonough District Hospital celebrates Nurse Practitioner Week, which runs November 10-16.

“In today’s world of medicine nurse practitioners are very important with the care of patients. Without their assistance there would not be enough primary care providers, or even other providers, to give the health care that is needed,” said Dr. Rick Minter, MDH Family Clinic. “These individuals are highly trained and skilled, and are able to bridge the gap of services that the physicians are not able to fulfill all the time.”

Pictured: Nurse Practitioner Lyndsay Bedwell examines a
Walk-In Clinic pediatric patient.

Following a bachelor’s degree in nursing, NPs pursue a graduate degree in nursing education. But just what duties can a nurse practitioner perform?

NPs are certified to prescribe medication in all 50 states, examine patients, diagnose illnesses, and provide treatment much like physicians do. Throughout 20 states, nurse practitioners have what is referred to as “full practice authority”, meaning they do not have to work under the supervision of a doctor.

To earn that recognition as an expert health care provider, nurse practitioners must go through national certification, periodic peer review, clinical evaluations, and adhere to a code of ethical practices.

"I worked with nurse practitioners at (Western Illinois University’s) Beu Health Center for 14 years. They were very competent and greatly increased our ability to see the students in need. We couldn't have functioned nearly as well without them,” said Dr. Rick Iverson, Chairman of the MDH Board of Directors. “I consulted with them daily and sometimes multiple times. With our nationwide shortage of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are desperately needed."

A sample of the rigorous training includes: ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests such as lab work and x-rays; counseling; and diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses and conditions such as: diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, and injuries.

“Nurse practitioners play an important role in today’s health care, and that role will increase even more over time. Health care is seeing a shortage of primary care physicians. Nurse practitioner is one of the fastest growing professions in the country, and their training and expertise will be needed to meet the increased demand of providing a full range of medical services,” said Edwin Card, MD, Chief Medical Officer at McDonough District Hospital.

Nurse practitioners cover more than acute and primary care (adult, family, pediatric, women’s health, and gerontology) services, they can also train and provide specialty health care, such as the case with MDH Ear, Nose and Throat.

“Having a nurse practitioner is very valuable in a specialty setting since it allows us to provide quality care in a much quicker timeframe. Before I had Kamie McKee, FNP-C, working with me, my wait time was over three months. Now most patients can be seen within about two weeks, which is far better than the national average for an otolaryngology specialty,” said Dr. Jeff Sparks, MDH Ear, Nose and Throat. “Kamie is also in the office on days that I am in surgery allowing for five days a week of Ear, Nose and Throat coverage.”

For a full listing of MDH Medical Staff and those accepting new patients, click here.

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