Nurse Practitioner week recognizes nurses nationally

Courtesy / GVSU Family Health Center
A student being examined at the GVSU Family Health Center.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy / GVSU Family Health Center A student being examined at the GVSU Family Health Center.

Rachel Cross

More than 155,000 nurse practitioners (NP) practicing in the U.S today will be recognized during Nurse Practitioner week from Nov. 11-17, a national event that acknowledges their work and informs the public about the value of their job. Nurse practitioners provide access to affordable and high quality care, as well as services to alleviate the health care provider crisis.

The Grand Valley State University Family Health Center will have an open house Nov. 16 to celebrate nurse practitioners while also informing the community about the services they offer. The health center is staffed by registered nurses and nurse practitioners.

Ann Sheehan, associate dean in the Kirkhof College of Nursing and a pediatric nurse practitioner, said nurse practitioners provide a wide variety of services, including ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests, diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions, as well as prescribing medications and treatments.

“A nurse practitioner-run office functions using the nurse model,” Sheehan said. “We emphasize health promotion and wellness. Our main objective is for our patients to be as healthy as possible; we try to prevent chronic disease by helping patients make health care decisions and healthy lifestyle choices.”

She also said nurse-managed health centers have had positive health outcomes for patients, such as a decrease in emergency room visits as well as hospital in-patient stays.
Mary Jo Miedema, has been a registered nurse at the GVSU Family Health Center for 14 years.

“The best part of NP week is formally recognizing providers worldwide,” Miedema said. “Working with people who work with a level of caring and expertise is a blessing. This week also provides the opportunity for patients out there in the community to know what they’re able to do.”

She said she enjoys her experience working with NPs.

“I think that working with professional and experienced NPs is wonderful,” she said. “The diversity of family nurse-managed clinics and the PNP (pediatric nurse practitioner) population has grown. I’ve been seeing more families as well; we can treat everyone from all walks of life.”

Miedema added that the biggest challenge of a nurse-managed clinic is making sure that it connects people with the correct resources to help with financial assistance and access to care.
“People don’t inspect care or diagnostic testing without insurance; we have to find a creative way for patients to get these resources,” Miedema said.

Kim Fenbert, PNP at the center, said the most challenging part about working in a nurse-managed clinic is that the whole staff wants to do their very best by providing high quality and cost-effective care. “To provide our very best services, we must continue reading and making sure we’re all up to date with practices out there, which can be challenging at times,” Fenbert said.

She added that the PNPs and NPs have annual conferences to keep up with their certification and continuing their education credits.

“The conferences are evidence-based and teach a wide variety of skills to PNPs, such as obesity, primary care, and acute care,” Fenbert said. “I go to the conferences that are the most important to me as a PNP and that are most important to the practice, including health promotion and patient education.”

The open house at the Family Health Center will run from 1-4 p.m. at the center located on 72 Sheldon Blvd. in Grand Rapids.

For further information on the GVSU Family Health Center, please call (616) 989-8774.

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