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NursesYesterday, I was privileged to be the luncheon speaker at a meeting at Danbury Hospital, a unit of Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN). The purpose of the meeting was to honor two dozen nurses who are enrolled in graduate education. Each nurse introduced herself or himself and described the research they are performing as part of their advanced education. The hospital network now has more than 100 nurses with masters degrees and more than 25 with doctorates. In recognition and support of the educational advancement for nurses, a local estate has made a gift of over $1 million to support nursing education.

The luncheon was chaired by Dr. Moreen Donahue, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. Moreen was recently appointed as The Beatrice Hofstadter White Endowed Chair for Nursing Education and Research. “This endowment will support educational and research initiatives that enable our communities to benefit from access to some of the most accomplished and capable nurses in the nation,” said Dr. John M. Murphy, WCHN President and CEO. “It will ensure that our nurses have the high levels of expertise required to deliver superior patient care in a health system being transformed by the Affordable Care Act.” Dr. Donohue said, “We believe it is essential to empower nurses to further their education and expand their skills in delivering superior health services”.

For every physician and surgeon in the United States, there are four nurses and 16 assistants, technicians, therapists, and other support personnel who provide essential healthcare services. Until now, providers worked independently, seeing patients as requested and charging fees for the services they performed. The emerging model of care replaces the independent silos of care with a continuum of care. The continuum of care is a concept involving an integrated system of care guiding and tracking patients over time through a comprehensive array of health services spanning all levels of care from home health aid to surgeon. Think of the continuum as a team providing whatever care the patient may need. Nurses play a critical role in the hospital and throughout the continuum of care. Some serve as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or nurse practitioner (NP). These healthcare professionals are informally referred to as physician extenders. Whether providing care at the bedside or leading a research study to enhance future care, nurses are highly valued across the entire continuum of care.

Read more about the role of nurses and physician extenders in Health Attitude.

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