A response to Marie-Eileen Onieal's editorial, "Where Have All the PNPs Gone?" from the October issue.
MISSING: PEDIATRIC NPs
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Some suspicions I have had for a while were confirmed for me when I read Marie-Eileen Onieal’s editorial “Where Have All the PNPs Gone?” in the October issue (Clinician Reviews. 2011;21:cover, 4-5, 38). I am a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP), and I taught in a PNP program at the University of North Carolina for nine years before moving to Florida with my husband and joining the faculty at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
UCF has a family nurse practitioner (FNP) program and an adult/geriatric NP program. It had a PNP program, but that program is currently suspended for lack of faculty and demand. The University of South Florida has also suspended its PNP program, leaving the University of Florida and Florida International University as the only public universities in the state that offer this track.
It has been widely publicized that there is a shortage of faculty to teach in undergraduate nursing programs, but I think this is also a problem for NP programs, and PNP programs in particular. My university is willing to begin readmitting students to the PNP program, but we have vacant faculty lines. I have teaching loads in areas outside pediatrics that must be covered before I can focus on directing the PNP track. I imagine this is not an uncommon scenario. In addition, when needs assessments are done in the community, the number of nurses who say they want to go back to school to become a PNP is lower.
Another factor that may be impacting the clinical training of PNPs is the current practice climate. Most primary care practices are worried about productivity, reimbursement regulations, and HIPAA compliance. Some believe that having students in a practice slows down the revenue-generating provider (the preceptor). This has led to difficulty finding clinical sites for our students and adds to the problem of providing this specialty.
Lastly, the number of students enrolled in PNP programs has always been less than that in FNP programs. When universities are making decisions on program offerings in this climate of limited resources, the PNP programs may lose out.
With all of these circumstances occurring, I too ask the question: Who better to care for all of the children in need out there? And how do we reverse this trend?
Julee B. Waldrop, DNP, FNP, PNP, Orlando