The Workforce Distribution and Changes in Nurse Practitioners' Practice within the Mississippi River Delta States

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Thomas Kippenbrock, EdD, RN
School of Nursing, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Ellen Odell, DNP
Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, University of AR, Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AR

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand workforce factors influencing nurse practitionersí employment in rural and health professional storage areas.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to identify strategies to increase nurse practitioners employment in rural and health professional storage areas.

The U.S. southern region is one of the poorest, socioeconomically deprived, and isolated areas in the country.  Furthermore, healthcare outcomes such as cardiovascular deaths, cancer deaths, and diabetes are some of the highest in the county.  The workforce development system was the conceptual model used in the study.  This strategic planning model focuses on identifying change strategies/processes and outcome indicators.   Job seeking activities are dependent on demands for the occupation and supply of education, suppliers, and community resources.   Job seeker and employer activities include recruitment, assessment, education, placement, retention, and advancement.  The research design used was a non-experimental quantitative survey technique.  The same questionnaire was administered to nurse practitioners (NP) in 2000 and 2010.  Other data sources included the Health Resources and Services Administration which identified health professional shortage areas and data from the U.S. Census Bureau was used to distinguish urban and rural areas.  The findings were that approximately 25% of NPs worked in shortage areas both in 2000 and in 2010.  Although more than half of NPs worked in the rural area, this proportion has remained blatantly steady over the past decade.  Employment in rural health centers and family practice as a specialty declined.  There was not a significant change in the racial diversity of NPs.  Racial diversity continues to be almost non-existent within the NP population.  This study provides evidence that NPs are well-positioned to meet the growing demands for primary care services in the lower Mississippi River Delta states.  Health care administrators should enable NPs to positively impact healthcare outcomes through high quality and lower cost primary care, especially in rural and underserved areas where it is difficult to recruit physicians. NPs need to practice at the full extent of their licensure in the Delta states, as recently recommended by the IOM (2010).