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Nurse Practitioner Programs in Idaho

Nurse practitioners and access to quality care: for many Idahoans, these two things go hand and hand. Idaho code states that nurse practitioners provide primary care services. The nurse practitioner’s role involves diagnosing and managing illness: both chronic and acute. The nurse practitioner scope of practice includes prescribing medications.

Although primary care is central to the conceptualization of the nurse practitioner role, some nurse practitioners do work in acute care settings.

Nurse practitioners are licensed as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). There are four APRN roles, but nurse practitioner is the most common one nationwide, and currently the only one for which there are in-state programs.

Today’s new graduates receive prescriptive authority when they receive their licenses – today’s programs prepare them well.

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs in Idaho

#1: Idaho State University, Idaho’s oldest nurse practitioner program, offers students a DNP option in two high needs areas: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).

#2: Boise State University offers adult-gerontology primary and acute care programs at the master’s level. Students graduate with 50 credits and 700 clinical hours. BSU announced that every member of the first graduating class passed the certification examination.

#3: Northwest Nazarene University offers a cohort-based family nurse practitioner program, taught primarily online. A nurse practitioner master’s is just 48 credits away for a nurse with a BSN; 9 - 15 more for an RN with less than a BSN.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

An RN who seeks APRN status will need to earn a graduate degree. The qualifying program may be at the graduate or post-graduate level. It will offer preparation for the role and population focus. Programs are to be accredited by an appropriate national accrediting agency.

The Idaho Board has an approval process for APRN programs located in Idaho. Currently there are three. Two are relatively new. They are master’s level. The state’s oldest program has transitioned to the doctoral level. All are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Programs include coursework in advanced assessment, psychotherapeutics, and pathophysiology, and in the management of health issues relevant to the population. They prepare students to utilize research, apply evidence-based practice, and conduct themselves in ways consistent with professional standards. They may utilize distance learning. Students will, however, accrue at least 500 clinical experience hours at the advanced level – this means time spent out in the field.

In-state options include family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Each is a potential pathway to employment in a variety of settings. Although adult-gerontology is an ideal certification for settings such as long-term care, nurse practitioners with this credential work in many settings; their AGNP credentials qualify them to work with patients as young as adolescence./

There two in-state family nurse practitioner programs -- this is a very common population focus around the nation. Northern Nazarene University describes the FNP role as one of assessing patients, ordering diagnostic or laboratory tests as needed, prescribing medications and non-pharmacological interventions, educating patients, and providing follow-up (in other words, a lot like the family doctor).

Typically, one enters a nurse practitioner program with a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN). An RN can enter a bridge program and begin the journey towards master's level education and nurse practitioner status with a degree as low as the associate level. (More: Nurse Practitioner requirements in Idaho)

Some providers earn loan repayment by working in underserved areas (http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/RuralHealthandPrimaryCare/GrantResources/tabid/411/Default.aspx).

Scope of Practice

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners classifies Idaho as a full practice state, one of 23 where nurse practitioners can practice independently at the level of their education and training. Idaho does not require formalized physician supervision or collaboration; this can translate to fewer hurdles for nurse practitioners who choose to serve in rural areas.

Nurse practitioners do collaborate as circumstances dictate. Published standards include recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge and experience and consulting other professionals as necessary. In some settings, nurse practitioners work alongside healthcare professionals from multiple disciplines, all carrying out tasks at a level appropriate to their licensing and contributing the perspectives of their disciplines. In others, a nurse practitioner will be the sole healthcare provider at a particular location at a given time.

Even when a state is classified as full practice, it doesn't mean there are no obstacles to utilizing nurse practitioners to their fullest capacity. There are organizations and individuals in the state, though, who are dedicated to helping nurse practitioners do so – after all, they are vital in a time of primary care provider shortages. A recent grant-funded project surveyed a large portion of the state’s APRNs and employers; the purpose was to identify barriers, cultural and organizational as well as regulatory (https://campaignforaction.org/resource/aprn-barriers-to-practice-in-idaho-survey-results-and-recommendations/).

Nurse Practitioner Salary in Idaho

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Idaho nurse practitioners earned, on average, $42.40 an hour in 2017 ($102,760 a year).

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