The School of Health Professions is right on track

The School of Health Professions is in its second year, and going just as Dean Heidi Taylor and Program Director Deborah Flournoy hoped it would.

The school was formed in response to a growing need for nurse practitioners in the industry, Senior Vice President Allen Henderson said. With the aging baby boomers entering retirement hospitals and even local pharmacies will need more and more nurse practitioners.

Pharmacies and neighborhood clinics are opening across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and will be hiring nurses and nurse practitioners, Henderson said.

“The medical field is evolving,” Henderson said.

A new doctorate program has been created specifically to help meet the growing need of family nurse practitioners called the Doctor of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner, or DNP/FNP. This program will train registered nurses into nurse practitioners.

“Nurse practitioners have more independence than registered nurses,” Flournoy said.

They can make diagnoses, prescribe medication, and perform minor surgeries in their medical offices, Flournoy said. In the past, families had a single, go-to physician. Now, family nurse practitioners are filling that roll by becoming the primary care provider. Beyond their family focus, family nurse practitioners can also specialize in certain areas of healthcare, much like traditional doctors.

“Nurse practitioners can be family nurse practitioners, women’s health nurse practitioners, neo-natal nurse practitioners, or pediatric nurse practitioners,” Taylor said.

Because of these specializations, nurse practitioners are considered advanced practice, Taylor said. It is this advanced practice classification that allows them to make diagnosis, prescribe medicine and order tests. In this they also bring their skills as a nurse, which a doctor may lack.

“The School of Health Professions aims not only to train nurse practitioners in healthcare skills, but the business aspect of running a practice as well,” Flournoy said.

Nursing students are being taught how to market themselves by selling their services at a price that represents the value they bring to a firm, Taylor said. Some nurses bring in millions of dollars for a practice, and only receive a small amount of that sum. Business education is lacking in other healthcare programs, and this emphasis on business will teach students how to be reasonably compensated for their work.

“We’re hoping to help our students remember why they went into nursing,” Taylor said.