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National Nurse Practitioner Week is November 10th-16th.

Havre, Montana – Northern Montana Health Care is celebrating National Nurse Practitioner week by recognizing these individuals and all that they bring to their organization. Northern Montana Health Care now employs six Nurse Practitioners; Jennifer Durward, APRN, Psychiatry; Ericka Everly, CRNA, Anesthesia; Anita Kellam, DNP, FNP, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Tanya McCullough, APRN, Internal Medicine; Thomas Scruggs, CRNA, Anesthesia; and Dave Widdekind, CRNA, Anesthesia.

There are currently more than 171,000 Nurse Practitioners (NPs) that provide high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive care to patients across the country. NPs are licensed, expert clinicians with advanced education and extensive clinical preparation. NPs can serve as a patient’s primary health care provider, while many of them specialize in other areas of medicine.

There are a variety of paths to becoming a nurse practitioner in the United States. Typically, the process begins with obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, 4 years), followed by a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN, usually 3 years).  Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs usually require an additional two to three years of study beyond the MSN. Further training brings additional designations such as Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Practitioners (APRNs), Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). NPs must also have continuing education credits in order to maintain their certification and licensure.

The variety of educational paths for NPs is a result of the history of the field. The first Nurse Practitioner program was created by a nurse educator, Loretta Ford, EdD, RN, PNP, and a physician, Henry Silver, MD, in 1965 at the University of Colorado as a non-degree certificate program. This program trained experienced Registered Nurses for their new advanced nursing roles as Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Then, during the 1980s, Nurse Practitioner educational requirements were transitioned into graduate-level master degree programs.

Similar to all medical professions, the core philosophy of the nurse practitioner role is individualized care that focuses on the patient’s medical issues as well as the effects of illness on the life of the patient and his or her family. Like all health care providers, NPs make prevention, wellness, and patient education their priority. In addition to performing routine caretaking tasks, nurse practitioners have the advanced medical training to diagnose and treat a wide range of ailments.

“Utilizing Nurse Practitioners enables us to see patients sooner. We’re expanding the scope of our service to the Hi-Line community.” says Steven Liston, MD, Chief of Staff at Northern Montana Hospital. “Ultimately our goal is to have a healthier community and the mind-set of Nurse Practitioners helps us to achieve that patient-centered care. NPs work as partners with their patients, guiding them toward making better decisions about their health.”

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