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Date Created: 12/18/15
Health Care Reform Is Causing Changes In Nursing Degree Programs Health care reform is changing the education that colleges and universities provide students in certain programs. Given that registered nurses, as a group, are said to form the greatest number of health care professionals, it might come as no surprise that nursing degree programs are a part of the changes. Nursing degrees are being altered and, in some instances, expanded as a means of incorporating new standards and making it easier for working nurses to advance their degrees and train for leadership positions. A university in Illinois, has added a new family nurse practitioner offering to the nursing degree options that it already provides. The idea of this graduate degree would be to help train nurses to fill roles in primary care, which is a major focus of health care reform. In November, a University of Michigan Health System report in fact suggested that a shortage of primary care physicians could result from this focus. Primary care providers, as part of health care reform, would move to a model of care that's referred to as "primary care medical home." As the University of Michigan Health System report tells it, many patients tend to have routine follow-ups handled by specialists. By coordinating, supervising and delegating a patient's care at all ages, primary care providers might steer patients in a more appropriate direction for such care. Students in the Illinois university's graduate nursing degree program learn about promoting health as well as managing a patient's diseases throughout the course of a life time, according to an announcement from the institution. The university offers another graduate nursing degree program in an area that's been a target for primary care as well: that of nurse practitioners. States are increasingly allowing nurse practitioners to serve as primary care providers, according to the American College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP). Many of these states already are already experiencing primary care provider shortages, the ACNP notes. Family and nurse practitioner programs like those at the Illinois university might be graduate level offerings, but more colleges and universities also are initiating RN to BSN and RN to MSN offerings - or nursing degree programs that offer registered nurses quicker routes to advanced degrees. To meet new health care standards, a New Orleans, La., university this year announced that it was making changes to an RN-BSN nursing degree program that it already offers. The changes had to do with the number of upper division nursing courses that are being required and the types of nursing courses, the university announcement suggested. Among the courses added and changed: Health Care Delivery Systems and Policy and Information Management and Patient Care Technology. More health care providers are relying upon technology as a means of maintaining patient records, which is where patient care technology comes in. This year, after a professional association known as the Tri-Council for Nursing encouraged registered nurses to advance their degrees as a means of filling demands for nurse educators and advanced practice nurses, a Cincinnati university announced that it was adding nursing degree programs in these areas. Bachelor's degrees aren't required for entry into the field of registered nursing, but registered nurses can save time toward these degrees as well as graduate degrees through offerings such as RN to BSN and RN to MSN programs where they might receive credit for their experience and what they already know. A Minneapolis college this year announced that its new RN to BSN program, an interactive, online offering, would be starting in January. In North Carolina, a college introduced a bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program for registered nurses who have obtained associate degrees. LPN to RN