Natchitoches, LA (Northwestern State University) — Three graduate students in Northwestern State University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health conducted research to determine if nurse practitioners in rural areas feel a collaborative practice agreement with a physician affects the quality of care they give their patients. Allison Turner of Alexandria, Sarah Bankert of Geismar and Benjamin Colvin of Pineville presented their work, “Perceptions of Nurse Practitioners Regarding Quality of Care and Physician Collaboration in Rural Health Centers in Louisiana,” at the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) bi-chapter research conference in Shreveport. The conference’s title was “Nursing’s Odyssey: Giving Back to Move Forward.”
According to the student’s study, nurse practitioners feel the care they give is equal to the care of a physician and that the quality of care was not affected by whether or not a collaborativeagreement was in place.
“These findings, although limited, provided us with a preliminary insight on nurse practitioners’ perceptions of their quality of care delivered regarding the implementation of a collaborative practice agreement,” Turner said. “We found that the majority feel the quality of care they deliver when compared to their collaborative physician is the same. Also, the majority of these respondents feel that a novice nurse practitioner will value their collaborative practice agreement more than anexperienced nurse practitioner.”
The students surveyed members of Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners who practice in rural settings with demographic and perceptional variables. Demographic variables included gender, age, race, employment, education, income, practice setting, experience in the rural setting, hours worked per week, number of patients seen per day and how often the nurse practitioner collaborates with their physician daily, weekly and monthly. Perceptional variables included quality of care in relation to the retention or removal of the collaborative practice agreement; how valued a collaborative practice agreement is to a novice nurse practitioner versus an experienced nurse practitioner; their perception of their quality of care delivered compared to their collaborating physician and whether the nurse practitioner feels the collaborative practice agreement personally limits their scope of practice.
How patients, physicians and other health care professionals feel about nurse practitioners is a popular topic throughout Louisiana, Turner said, particularly in relation to accessible health care in rural communities. The quality and scope of care provided by nurse practitioners has been debated among healthcare professionals and legislators.
“We feel that advanced practice registered nurses who manage rural health clinics perceive that patients could be provided the same quality of care without the restraints of a collaborative practiceagreement,” Turner said.
Turner, Banker and Colvin all received their Master of Science in Nursing degrees during Northwestern State’s spring commencement exercises last week.
“This is a very timely study when looking at healthcare reform, the 2010 IOM Report on the Future of Nursing and the bills being considered in the current Louisiana legislative session,” said Katheryn Arterberry, assistant professor of nursing and student advisor. “Our students are on the cutting edge of issues related to advance practice nursing and we are very proud of the work they are doing.”