Emory Report
July 24, 2006
Volume 58, Number 35


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July 24 , 2006
Nurse practitioner program addresses crisis

BY Amy Comeau

According to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the nation’s emergency departments (ED) are at the breaking point: ED patients must wait for hours to receive care, ambulances are diverted to other hospitals because of overcrowding, and a rising number of patients are using the EDs for common health care needs.

The Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP) program at Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing addresses the ED crisis. One of only four programs of its kind in the United States, the ENP program prepares nurses to provide health care in emergency settings, specifically in evaluating, managing, treating, and even preventing unexpected illness and injury.

ENPs are in a position to help improve hospital efficiency and patient flow, one of the solutions the IOM states is critical to reducing overcrowding, said ENP Director Michelle Mott. “Emergency nurse practitioners are prepared to work with different types of patients that come to the emergency departments. Specifically, we can identify and triage the non-urgent, semi-urgent and urgent cases, thus streamlining the process.”
Katherine Heilpern, vice chair for academic affairs, Emory Department of Emergency Medicine, agrees.

“Nurse practitioners specifically trained in the management of the acutely ill and injured patients are invaluable in the emergency setting, both for state-of-the-art acute care and managing patients in short-stay clinical decision units.”

The schools of nursing and medicine are working together to provide interdisciplinary linkages and educational opportunities for students, further establishing Emory as a leader in this approach, according to Heilpern.

In addition to learning how to perform clinical procedures commonly used in emergency settings, such as suturing, joint injection, slit-lamp examinations, and splinting and casting, Emory’s ENPs are prepared to provide primary health care for uninsured and insured patients who use the ED in lieu of visiting a doctor. Graduates are eligible for certification as a family nurse practitioner from the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.