Every day, nurse practitioners (NPs) save lives and improve the health of our friends and family. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that NPs are essential to our healthcare system. To honor their heroic efforts, communities nationwide are recognizing the criti-cal role of NPs as part of the annual National Nurse Practitioner Week (NP Week) celebration, held November 7-13. This year, the NP Week theme is “NPs: Going the Extra Mile.”
Nurse Practitioners Improve Care
NPs provide a wide range of care to America’s patients in more than 1 billion visits annually. As clinicians who blend clinical expertise with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, NPs are the healthcare provider of choice for millions of Americans. They practice in clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, nursing homes, homes and private practices across the coun-try — wherever patients are in need.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse practitioners went the extra mile. They were redeployed where they were needed most, including in intensive care and critical care units and at mobile COVID-19 diagnostic, testing and vaccination sites. NPs were able to step up and help save New York because of the 2015 Nurse Practitioner Modernization Act (NPMA), which expanded the scope of NPs’ independent practice and their collaboration with medical doctors (MDs).
Soon, New York’s elected officials will have the opportunity to once again support NPs and patients. Along with my union, the New York State Nurses Association, I support state legislation (A1535/S3056) to make the NPMA permanent and further expand the role of NPs by al-lowing experienced NPs with 3,600 practice hours or more to work independently of MDs and less experienced NPs to work under either an NP or an MD.
In New York state, 32,750 licensed NPs are practicing, providing timely, culturally relevant care and education to patients throughout the state. Whether serving in rural areas where healthcare access is poor or in the public health system of our nation’s largest city, NPs improve access to quality care and improve patient outcomes.
Higher Satisfaction with NPs
According to the National Association of Nurse Practitioners, research finds that patients under the care of NPs have higher satisfaction rat-ings and fewer unnecessary hospital readmissions, preventable hospitalizations and unnecessary emergency room visits than patients under physicians’ care. In my own practice at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx, New York, I’ve seen the results firsthand. As an oncology NP, I care for cancer patients every day, including patients who remember me from 14 years ago when I began my career in healthcare as a patient care associate in the emergency department. I know that to best serve the community that I love, I need to be able to continue to prac-tice at this advanced level.
We’ve Come a Long Way
Nurse practitioners have come a long way since our title was developed in the 1960s and our role in New York’s healthcare system was offi-cially recognized in 1988. Since that time, we have seen our scope of practice grow and modernize to meet patients’ needs. One of my NP mentors at Jacobi, who has been an NP for 40 years, remembers the time when NPs existed in a gray area and had to battle for respect. She says it makes no sense to turn back the hands of time and fight those same battles again.
Patients appreciate NPs because, like nurses, we listen to what our patients have to say. Nurse Practitioner Week is a perfect time for law-makers to listen too.
Soon, New York’s elected officials will have the opportunity to once again support NPs and patients.”