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Nurse Practitioner Program in Minnesota

Minnesota nurse practitioners are recognized as primary care providers. They can act as the entry-point to the healthcare system for individual patients; among their competencies is advanced assessment. Nurse practitioners manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and acute illnesses such as infections. They may order diagnostic tests and prescribe medications. They may also order physical therapy (https://mn.gov/boards/nursing/laws-and-rules/related-laws/related-laws-nurses.jsp). A key part of primary care is health promotion and illness prevention.

Nurse practitioners have a defined population focus. Minnesota recognizes the following: families and individuals across the lifespan, adult-gerontology, pediatric care, neonatal, psychiatric /mental health, and women's and gender-related health. Scope of practice is determined by professional nursing organizations operating on the national level and varies by population focus.

Minnesota nurse practitioners can practice independently, though independence does not come immediately after graduation; there is a transition to practice period. The current law is relatively new, in place only a few years. Minnesota has amassed plenty of data about its nurses, but some reflects a different practice environment. The Michigan Rural Health Advisory Committee noted in 2015 that the new law might result in more nurse practitioners having ‘admitting privileges’ at critical access hospitals; as of late 2014, the percentage was just over half (http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/rhac/pubs.html).

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs in Minnesota

#1: The University of Minnesota: Here one can find plenty of options! The University of Minnesota—Twin Cities is ranked #26 out of all DNP programs in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report. Minnesota State University- Mankato offers programs at the master’s level.

#2: St. Catherine University offers adult-gerontology and pediatric nurse practitioner programs. The program reflects commitment to social change and meeting the needs of marginalized populations. The pediatric nurse practitioner program has a three-year first-time certification pass rate of 95%, a total pass rate of 100%, and nurse practitioner employment rate of 100%; this reflects current data on the St. Kate’s website.

#3: The College of St. Scholastica: Approved by the Minnesota and Arizona Boards, the College of St. Scholastica offers yet another opportunity to launch one’s family nurse practitioner career and earn an accredited degree.

#4: Winona State University offers family, adult-gerontology acute care, and mental health options. It boasts the Mayo Health System among its clinical partners.

Nurse Practitioner Education and Training

Nurse practitioner is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse: one of four recognized in Minnesota. It is the most common.

The greatest subset of Minnesota nurse practitioner graduates are prepared as family nurse practitioners. Adult-gerontology and psychiatric mental health are also quite common. The Board notes in its annual report that Minnesota schools offer separate tracks for adult-gerontology acute and primary care, though Minnesota does not issue different licenses. The state prepares a relatively small number of pediatric and women’s health nurse practitioners.

A majority of the state’s Nurse Practitioner programs now issue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Some programs award master’s degrees. They may have separate tracks for students with BSNs and students who are already APRNs but want to advance their careers.

Online Nurse Practitioner program study is common. The student can, in all cases, expect at least 500 clinical practice hours at the graduate level. CCNE-accredited DNP programs ensure that their graduates have completed at least 1,000. They include scholarly projects that may extend across multiple semesters.

Students must complete Nurse Practitioner graduate programs that hold programmatic accreditation. One can find Minnesota programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

The website of the Minnesota Board includes a list of approved programs (https://mn.gov/boards/nursing/education/advanced-practice-nursing-programs/). The Board’s annual report includes information about APRN programs. Students can find school’s first-time pass rates on national certification exams listed for a three-year period. The Board cautions that annual pass rates should be interpreted with caution as some classes are very small.

Students in some tracks (e.g. family nurse practitioner) have a choice of two exams; only small numbers may have opted for a particular one. The Board has provided national averages for the various exams. Some Minnesota schools notably boast three-year 100% pass rates on one or more examinations.

The following national organizations offer qualifying certification exams for one or more population foci:

  • The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Certification Corporation
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
  • The National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing Specialties

The graduate will need at least 2,080 hours of experience in a collaborative practice setting. Collaborators may be either physicians or APRNs. At least one collaborator must have experience caring for patients with similar medical issues. (See: Nurse Practitioner Requirements in Minnesota)

Work Settings: Urban and Rural

The primary worksites are clinics and hospitals, though nurse practitioners can work in many healthcare settings, including those that serve the frail elderly.

The vast majority of Minnesota’s advanced practitioners are urban: 80%. Indeed there are more urban nurse practitioners when figured on a per-population basis. The greatest number of residents per nurse practitioner is in rural isolated communities. This is according to a survey carried out by the Michigan Rural Health Advisory Committee (RHAC) of rural facilities in late 2014 (http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/rhac/pubs.html).

Nurse practitioners are an integral part of healthcare access in rural communities, nonetheless. They comprised 27% to 29% of primary care providers at the surveyed facilities (compared to a little over half who were physicians).

Rural clinics tended to utilize nurse practitioners a little more than physician assistants while critical access hospitals utilized physician assistants a little more. 100% of rural clinics utilized nurse practitioners in family medicine, 54% in geriatrics, 46% in urgent care, 45% in diabetes, 42% in pediatrics and adolescent health, and 39% in family planning. Larger rural clinics were more likely to use nurse practitioners in specialty areas like oncology.

The highest percentage of CAH utilization was in emergency departments followed by med/surgical and geriatrics, both at 31%.

Substantial number of clinics and hospitals reported using NPs to lead care coordination teams. A number of facilities, both clinic and hospital, expressed interest in development of transition to practice programs to support new nurse practitioners working in rural areas.

A Walden University DNP student in 2015 completed a quality improvement (QI) scholarly project focused on development of a transition to practice program for nurse practitioners employed at a CAH. This is one of many themes doctoral students can explore as they prepare themselves to shape the future of healthcare!

For those who prefer the urban scene, the greater Duluth and Rochester areas employ many. University of Minnesota Health operates a nurse practitioner-led clinic in Minneapolis (https://www.mhealth.org/locations/buildings/university-of-minnesota-health-nurse-practitioners-clinic-a-umphysicians-clinic).

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