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Nursing is the largest profession in health care today

Nursing is the largest profession in health care today. Currently, there are approximately 2.8 million practicing registered nurses. It is estimated there will be close to 4 million by 2017. Nursing needs to be full participants with medicine and other health care (providers) to lead the change.


Recently the Institute of Medicine released a report with some recommendations regarding the future of nursing.

The report recommends that the majority of registered nurses should be required to hold a bachelor degree in nursing. This requires four years of education at an accredited school of nursing.  Only 50% of practicing registered nurses today have a Bachelor degree or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The other 50% have associates degree or diplomas in nursing, these usually require 2-3 years of training.

Another recommendation is that Nurse Practitioner’s (NP) should be able to practice without the direct supervision of a physician and be compensated, “directly and fairly for their services”. In other words, the pay scale for a NP should be closer to a physician’s wage as they provide many of the same services. Nurse practitioners hold master’s degrees in nursing (MSN) and may diagnose, treat and prescribe medications just as a physician would.

Currently, there are only 16 states that recognize NP’s as independent health care providers, these are; Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. While these states allow the NP to practice independently wages are generally not on par with similar services provided by a physician. The report also asks state lawmakers to require health insurance companies to compensate NP’s similarly.

It is obvious that nursing is a large and vital part of the health care team. Medicine and health are changing rapidly; nursing professionals will need to be an active part of these changes.

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