Study: Back Problem Diagnoses by a Nurse Practitioner Identical to Diagnoses by Orthopedists
An article in the December issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing reports that a pilot study comparing diagnoses and treatment plans developed by a nurse practitioner for a large group of spine patients with those developed independently for the same patients by two orthopedic surgeons found practically no differences.
In the study, nurse practitioner Angela Sarro, M.N., R.N., C.N.N., of Toronto Western Hospital, and her colleagues at the hospital, Raja Rampersaud, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., and Stephen Lewis, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., both orthopedic surgeons, examined 177 patients with back problems. Sarro saw all 177, after which her colleagues examined the same patients. In all cases, Sarro’s diagnosis matched that of her colleague doctors, and in 95 percent of the cases, her recommended treatment was the same.
The significant difference was the waiting times for patients. Sarro saw patients within 10 to 21 weeks of referral, which compared to an average wait of 10 to 52 weeks to see a surgeon in a conventional clinic in the area, according to the study.
"We believe that our study demonstrates that nurse practitioners can play an effective and efficient role in delivering timely healthcare to patients requiring specific disease management in a specialty setting,” says Rampersaud.
- Read an abstract of the Journal of Advanced Nursing article.
- Read a Science Daily article on the study.
Recent Nursing School Grads Struggling to Find Jobs
A new survey by the nonprofit California Institute for Nursing and Health Care finds that 43 percent of recent nursing school graduates in the state have been unable to find jobs in the profession.
The top two barriers to employment reported by the nurses who had not found jobs were that employers were not hiring nurses who had no clinical experience and that there were simply no positions available.
The Institute pointed to the economy as a key factor in the findings. “Overall, the state vacancy rate is down to about 3 percent in hospitals, which is pretty low,” said Deloras Jones, R.N., executive director of the Institute. “That’s because there are experienced nurses out there hospitals are able to hire. We talk about the nursing work force as being elastic. When the economy is good, nurses work less. When the economy is bad, nurses work more.” She continued, “Experienced nurses have taken jobs we expected new nurses to go into, but we expect that to change very rapidly when the economy improves.... A shortage looms in front of us as the aging work force retires.”