By Diane Smith – Staff Writer at the Record-Courier
As Ohio and the nation brace for millions of newly insured Americans entering the health care market, Portage County’s educational institutions are doing their part to meet the demand.
But such a large need and an already heavy burden on health care providers may create the “perfect storm” needed to encourage providers to work more corroboratively, some educators have suggested.
Laura Dzurec, director of the College of Nursing at Kent State University, said KSU’s nursing program is growing, and nurse practitioners represent a growing specialty. More than 600 students are enrolled in the nurse practitioner program, in 14 concentrations. Almost all plan to work in northeast Ohio, with most already employed in the region. About 80 to 85 of them graduate every year.
Nurse practitioners, she said, can do many of the things doctors can do, including prescribe medication.
The nurses, she said, are “being encourage to really practice at the boundaries of their scope of service” and work in inter-disciplinary teams.
“That’s where the best health care happens, when everybody brings their expertise to the table.”
It takes as many as 50 credit hours in some specialties and about 1,000 clinical hours to become a nurse practitioner, which usually amounts to two years or more of full-time study, on top of a bachelor’s degree. A new track allows nurses to earn a doctorate of nursing, an advanced doctorate degree.
Dzurec said the health care field is particularly challenging in Northeast Ohio, where there are several large hospital systems, some of which draw patients from around the world.