AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A record high of 248,000 licensed nurse practitioners are meeting the growing demand for the profession in 2018, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Two-hundred and forty are currently practicing in Potter and Randall counties.
West Texas A&M University faculty member of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program Kathy Shipp said the nursing program is seeing a steady increase in enrollment as they prepare students to enter the field.
“We’ve just accepted another 35 students that will be starting in the spring and they start out in what we call core foundational courses and then they move into the practice-related courses after they’ve finished those,” she said.
Shipp said the program is a big part of providing nurse practitioners in smaller, rural communities where patients wouldn’t have access to a physician.
“WT has met the need to provide the education for nurses in these rural areas,” she said. “So they’re in their rural area and they come to get that education to back and take care of their communities.”
The high demand for nurse practitioners comes on the heels of a rise in chronic disease, aging baby boomers, and an increased availability of health coverage.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center professor, Shelly Seth, said this had been expected for years.
“Now we’re here and we’re seeing it come true and the nurse practitioner is able to step in and provide high quality care to patients everywhere,” she said.
Seth said that high quality care comes from a knowledge of nursing and medicine that allows nurse practitioners to be holistically involved in the overall well-being of their patients.
“I think because the nurse practitioner is a link between the RN role and the physician role and we understand both worlds, so we being the best of us to that role and it is a satisfying role,” she said.
“The nurses will not have a salary that matches what a physician has but the payback is that the patients are better they’re happy, they know their provider is caring for them,” said Shipp. “They know the physician is caring for them too, but we are a little more cost-effective in the rural area as well.”