Handheld Computers Can Help Researchers Assess Cost of Training Nurse Practitioners

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) studied the costs of clinical training for nurse practitioners.

Managed-care organization are making growing use of nurse practitioners as mainstream primary care providers, and training programs in this field have experienced a brisk growth. Such training includes extensive hands-on experience of at least 600 hours supervised by practicing clinicians, and much of it is carried out in non-hospital, ambulatory care settings.

The AACN reviewed the methodology and results of previous research led by James Boex of Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, which involved a comprehensive study to ascertain the cost of ambulatory care medical residency training. AACN considered the study's applicability for an assessment of the unique costs, benefits, and quality factors involved in advanced-practice nursing education.

Key Results

To determine the applicability of the model to nursing, investigators:

  • Conducted a literature search.
  • Interviewed leaders in nurse practitioner training.
  • Convened an advisory committee to investigate the model.
  • Consulted with the researcher who developed the model.
  • Conducted research into the feasibility of using personal data assistants (PDAs) to collect information on clinical nurse trainees' and supervisors' activities throughout the day.

    Subsequently, nurse practitioner preceptors and students at Northeastern University conducted a more extensive pilot of the modified program. Feedback from participants led to further revisions of the program.

Key Findings

The AACN Researchers concluded the following:

  • The medical residency training cost model would be applicable to nursing with several modifications and an adequate and representative sample.
  • The lack of financial resources available for support of the clinical education of nurse practitioners has created a system in which students are dispersed across many training sites, requiring sophisticated methodological modifications for the collection of data across multiple settings.