OK, seriously, I do have to do a shout out for my peeps: Next week, November 11 through November 17, 2012 is National Nurse Practitioner Week! This is the week we are recognized for our role and efforts in patient care and the healthcare system in our nation.
Why is this important to me? Because I absolutely love being a nurse. But even more than that, I love being a nurse practitioner (NP)! Way too often, either in the hospital or in the medical oncologist's office, I hear a patient or family member say, "Thank you, Doctor," talking to me. This is even after I introduce myself with "Hi! I am Monica, your nurse practitioner." I take this as a compliment. But every time, I graciously correct the person who addressed me as a doctor. Why? Because I am proud to be a nurse practitioner. And I do know the difference between a doctor and a nurse practitioner. We both have our roles and work great together as a team. I do the correction out of respect for my own profession and also out of respect to all doctors. They have much more education, training, and experience than I do. And I am OK with that.
What I do find interesting is that there have been many articles, discussions, etc., about the evolving role of the nurse practitioner (and physician assistant, PA) in our healthcare system. Many of these journal articles I have read recently all point to the trend of the nurse practitioner (or PA) being central in the patient's role in future delivery systems and overhauls of our healthcare system. And the most interesting fact is many studies that have or are examining our role have taken place in the oncology setting.
One article speculated that there will be even greater demands as our healthcare system evolves and as major advances in diagnosis, treatment, and care delivery evolve. This will especially be true in cancer care. I am guessing they have chosen our specialty to conduct some initial studies because cancer care is often complex and comprehensive, so if something will work within this setting, it will potentially work in other settings too.
The key points have highlighted that the nurse practitioner (or PA) will be key in the communication and coordination of a patient's care, whether it is in the traditional treatment setting or clinical research setting. Especially true in the setting of patient-centered care environments and/or multidisciplinary disease-based teams (breast, lung, GI, hematology, etc.). I know many oncology practices locally in our city that are looking at different care models for many reasons: efficiency, healthcare reform, but with improving patient care being the ultimate goal.
Another interesting point in many of the articles I have read is how we obtained our knowledge in oncology. For many it was a combination of many of the following: on the job training, a special mentoring program, fellowship, externship, education gained through a specialized Advance Practice program at a university specializing in oncology, and/or through one of the oncology certification programs. And there is ongoing discussion about how nurse practitioners gain their knowledge in oncology in the future for new nurse practitioners at the Oncology Nursing Society, with many hints to new options that may be available soon for obtaining this specialized knowledge.
So, it got me to thinking -- how many of us are out there? I found out the following information:
- There are 155,000 nurse practitioners in the United States
- Of those, approximately 2,264 are members of the Oncology Nursing Society
- Of those ONS NP members, only 652 are certified as Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP)
- Less than 1 percent of all nurse practitioners are in the oncology specialty
That makes us rare birds. This is ironic, because I have always been told by my friends and family that I was a bird of a different color! That is OK, I am proud of my breed!
There are great resources about nurse practitioners through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners for our special week November 11 through November 17.
So, if you work with a nurse practitioner, please give her or him a shout out next week... they will appreciate it! And if you are a nurse now and thinking of becoming a nurse practitioner, let me know! I would be happy to tell you all about being an NP and especially one that specializes in oncology!
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (2012). Retrieved at: http://www.aanp.org/images/documents/press-room/npweek2012.pdf.
- Devine, H. (January/February 2012). The ASCO Study of Collaborative Practice Arrangements: A Nurse Practitioner's Point of View. Journal of Advanced Practice in Oncology. Vol. 3, No. 1. Pp. 34-41.
- McCorkle, R., Engelking, C., Knobf, T., Lazenby, M., Davies, M., Sipples, R., Ercolano, E. & Lyons, C. (January/February 2012). Transition to a New Cancer Care Delivery System: Opportunity for Empowerment of the Role of the Advanced Practice Provider. Journal of Advanced Practice in Oncology. Vol. 3, No. 1. Pp. 34-41.
- Nevidjon, B., Rieger, P., Murphy, C. M., Rosenzweig, M. Q., McCorkle, M. R. & Baileys, K. (January 2010). Filling the Gap: Development of the Oncology Nurse Practitioner Workforce. Journal of Oncology Practice. Vol. 6, No. 1, Pp. 2-6. Doi: 10.1200/JOP.091072.
- Oncology Nursing Society (2012). Meet the Membership. Retrieved at: http://ons.org/Membership/Meet.
- Rosenzweig, M., Giblin, J., Morse, A., Sheehy, P. & Sommer, V. (March 2012). Bridging the Gap: A Descriptive Study of Knowledge and Skill Needs in the First Year of Oncology Nurse Practitioner Practice. Oncology Nursing Forum. Vol. 39, No. 2. Pp. 195-201.