OPINION: Advance practice nurses are a safety net and need to be part of health care reform
On Wednesday, March 14, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Senator (Rebekah) Warren in Lansing and discuss health care issues from the experience of a nurse practitioner.
Many in nursing, especially the staff nurses have been calling for change within practice, detailing the workloads and the overtime needed to work. Yet, little has been said about the nurse practitioner, advanced practice nurse, nurse midwives or clinical nurse specialists. I represent this group of expert professional clinicians and feel it is my personal duty to inform the public and Legislature how important this role is alongside the staff nurses’ role.
As Sen. Warren stood on the steps of the Capitol addressing nurses from all over the state of Michigan, for the Nurses March, she included advanced practice in her speech. Advanced practice nursing is the safety net for health care in Michigan.
APN’s go to areas physicians will not go, they volunteer in clinics that have no other form of health care. Advance practice nurses delivery the babies in the rural areas and go into the shelters in the inner city. We teach the children in the schools how to be healthy and assist the parents with the health care system.
In the hospitals we are the safety net that holds the practice together, with communication, collaboration and expertise within our clinical practice.
Advanced practice nurse educators are needed in the schools of nursing to alleviate the nursing shortage. Yet the advanced nurse needs to be paid a decent wage to teach the undergrads, this is one reason the nursing shortage is looming.
I agree with Senator Warren that change needs to happen in health care -- the advanced practice nurse is one solution. Our current health care system is not working, but it can only change with the support of the community we live in, get involved, and know what bills are coming up that affect you and this community.
Go to the coffeehouse series that Sen. Warren and state Rep. (Jeff) Irwin host every month. You would be surprised with the content and passion they bring to the table.
Opal Patricia Lesse