(This article and its headline have been updated with a correction.)
The University of Minnesota School of Nursing is launching a new nurse-led outpatient clinic in the Gopher State, made possible by a recent change in state law.
Family nurse practitioners will offer primary-care services and an on-site pharmacist in the downtown Minneapolis clinic, one of roughly 250 clinics in the country that operate without a physician's oversight. The clinic, which opens April 6, is expected to serve as a training facility for U-M nursing students, clinical pharmacists and other primary-care providers as well, the school said.
“When you can connect an actual clinical service with the school of nursing, it means we're actually training nurse practitioners not only in the reality of this model but also with an interprofessional team,” said Connie White Delaney, dean and professor at the U-M school of nursing.
The facility was made possible by a partnership with RS Eden, a local housing agency, and is affiliated with University of Minnesota Health. Like many nurse practitioner clinics, the facility will serve indigent and low-income patients, in addition to those with insurance.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia allow nurse practitioners to practice independent of a physician. Minnesota became the 19th last year. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a nurse practitioner autonomy bill last month to make his state the 20th.
Nurse practitioner autonomy legislation is pending in about 12 states across the U.S., said Ken Miller, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. State medical societies tend to oppose the legislation, claiming that nurse practitioners don't provide the same quality of care as licensed physicians.
“With all of these new people coming on under the Affordable Care Act, no single discipline is going to be able to handle those patients,” but nurse practitioners are well-positioned to fill the need for primary care, Miller said.
Nurse practitioner programs are growing at colleges across the country, graduating about 15,000 to 16,000 students a year. Over 60% of these new NPs are being certified in family care, preparing them to work in primary-care clinics.
The country needs more nurse-led clinics so that these students have a place to gain clinical experience, said Tine Hansen-Turton, CEO of the National Nursing Centers Consortium, which represents nurse-led clinics.
Nurse-led clinics have struggled to expand because their often-vulnerable patients make them unattractive as a business model, Hansen-Turton said. Two-thirds of clinics are affiliated with universities who have formed their own facilities at which NP students can train.
“This is a huge issue,” she said. “We don't have enough training sites for nurse practitioners.”
(This article and headline have been corrected. The new nurse-led clinic is not the first of its kind in the state.)