Baylor to Offer Family Nurse Practitioner Program

Feb. 16, 1998

by Alan Hunt

DALLAS, Texas -- A new family nurse practitioner graduate program focusing on the role of nurses as primary health care providers in missionary fields and among underserved people in the U.S. will be offered beginning this fall by Baylor University School of Nursing.

"The graduate of the family nurse practitioner program will be able to deliver primary health care in this country or in international settings with people from many cultures and in challenging conditions," says Dr. Pauline Johnson, professor of nursing and director of the graduate program. The program offers a family nurse practitioner (FNP) track in the school's master of science program.

Johnson says she anticipates great interest in the new program among nurses in Texas and those who serve as missionary nurses abroad. She says details of the new curriculum will be announced to about 200 African-based missionary nurses at a nursing conference in Kenya next month.

Baylor and the Southern Baptist International Mission Board are major sponsors of the continuing education conference for missionary nurses March 7-15 at the Brackenhurst Baptist Conference Center in Limuru, Kenya. Six members of the Baylor Nursing School faculty will teach during the conference program, which will enable nurse participants to earn the required continuing education units to maintain their licenses.

"Baylor's new family nurse practitioner program will have particular appeal to the missionary nurses at the conference," says Johnson. "We anticipate that a number of them, as well as nurses in this country, will enroll in the program."

Johnson says the difficulty in recruiting primary care medical practitioners is a major concern for all missionary-sending agencies. She terms "particularly desperate" the need for additional primary health care professionals in underdeveloped countries.

"Requests for medical missionaries hit a 10-year high in 1995, according to one missionary organization. This was the third year of dramatically higher requests and twice the number as in 1992."

She says a 1992 study of 223 missionary nurses by Amy Roberts, a Baylor nursing faculty member and coordinator of the Kenyan conference, indicated that being inadequately prepared was a "significant barrier" to their involvement in primary health care. "The cost of preparing a family nurse practitioner is approximately one-third to one-fifth that of preparing a physician," Johnson says.

Initially, students will study for the new FNP program at the Baylor School of Nursing's Dallas campus, although an alternative distance learning-based plan may be considered later, she says. The program's final clinical course may be completed in a missions setting abroad, or students can complete all the course work in the U.S. "For those who remain in the U.S., emphasis on working with underserved individuals, families and groups from a variety of cultural settings will prepare them for practice in this country for years to come."

The new 43-credit-hour program is designed for the baccalaureate-prepared nurse. The curriculum includes theories and concepts, nursing research, advanced pharmacotherapeutics, advanced physical assessment, advanced pathophysiology, primary health care, and transcultural nursing principles.

Baylor School of Nursing also offers a graduate program in patient care management. The program gives nurses an opportunity to obtain a master's degree in nursing science and to acquire skills in case management, health services research, health economics, administration, information technology, and health care policy.

Johnson says the patient care management program is designed to help meet the growing demand for nurses skilled in handling both clinical and financial aspects of patient care. "These skills are essential in light of today's severe restrictions on health care financing," she says.

For more information, contact Johnson at (214) 820-3361.

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