'Dr. Nurse' might help with primary care shortage

With the primary care shortage growing worse, nursing schools are responding with their own solution--training and graduating growing numbers of nurses with doctorates. To date, more than 200 nursing schools have created or plan to launch doctorate of nursing programs, and there currently are about 1,900 DNP students enrolled in such programs, up from from 862 in 2006. Not only will such programs help ease the primary care crunch, they'll also help with the shortage of nursing faculty available, which has greatly restricted the capacity of schools to treat traditional bedside nurses.

The schools say these programs give nurses skills equivalent to those possessed by primary care physicians, though perhaps with a greater emphasis on coordinating care. They have the authority to prescribe medications and qualify for hospital medical board admitting privileges.  The National Board of Medical Examiners is developing a voluntary DNP certification exam that uses the same test physicians take to get their license, which will be offered starting this fall.

To learn more about the issues associated with the emergence of DNPs:
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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