Preparing the next generation of nurse practitioners


When students begin to fully realize the decision-making power they will have as nurse practitioners, it can be overwhelming. Even with their extensive nursing experience, they may not be used to having the final say over a patient’s health care, according to Assistant Professor of Nursing Nina Zimmermann, EdD, APRN, ANP-BC.

“Suddenly they’re like ‘Wow’,” she said. “It really hits them.”

Nurse practitioners are nurses with additional education and training that transform them into a healthcare provider who assesses, diagnoses, and treats patients. Nurse practitioners are more important than ever to the nation’s health care system, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Several factors are responsible for the escalating needs, Zimmermann said. “We have a shortage of doctors and a steadily increasing elderly population, especially in rural areas,” she said. These people have a longer life expectancy than previous generations and are more likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and respiratory problems due to their lifestyle, she said.

While preparing Maryville students for advanced practice, Zimmermann and Assistant Professor of Nursing Carol Berger, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, wondered how they might facilitate the process of bringing students to greater responsibility. .

“We wanted to help them understand that it takes time to put yourself in a supplier’s shoes; you have to break those shoes when walking in them, ”Berger said. “So we said, ‘Let’s do a podcast. “” In January 2021, they distributed the first episode of “Nurse Practitioners Changing Practice”.

“The podcast is designed to encourage students to be excited about the profession,” Berger said. “And let them know that their work can make a difference. “

The first order of business was to figure out how to create and distribute a podcast. It turns out that the online instruction necessitated by COVID-19 had already familiarized them with a solution. “We were doing all of our teaching on Zoom,” Berger said. “So you could say the pandemic kicked off the whole idea because we were already comfortable with the technology. “

For each podcast, Zimmermann and Berger meet in a Zoom session and record it, then upload the audio file to half a dozen hosting sites like Anchor and Spotify. The sessions are also available as YouTube videos.

Many episodes feature nurse practitioners whose work has led to real change. Guests Margaret Benz and Sue Kendig made an impact on health policy. Chris Hemmer created guidelines for back pain intervention. Berger’s own research has helped improve the dental health of children in rural Missouri.

Although Berger had radio and television experience with a book publishing business she owned with her husband, Zimmerman, she was new to the role of a show host. But it only took one episode to settle down. “We were just having a conversation about things we knew from our life experiences as nurse practitioners,” Zimmerman said. “And then it got easier and felt more natural, and we realized we didn’t need a script. “

Despite having a nationally renowned guest collection, Berger and Zimmerman were surprised to find that the most popular podcast episodes only involve the two. “The ones where Carol and I talk about what it feels like personally to see over 15-20 patients a day, or ‘How did you feel as a new nurse practitioner this first year? “, Zimmermann said.

Now, almost a year later, Berger and Zimmermann have produced nearly 20 podcast episodes. The podcast led to the creation of a robust “Evolving Practice Nurse Practitioner” website, which offers additional resources including case studies, interactive games and recorded lectures.

There is also a section that shares ‘clinical pearls’, small, relevant information based on the personal experiences and insights of Zimmermann and Berger. “We want to provide content that helps students develop their clinical judgment skills,” Berger said.

Berger’s husband helps manage the website, and his son designed the website logo and lightly edited the podcast. “It’s a family affair,” said Berger. “If I had to pay my husband for everything he did, I couldn’t afford it. To make the podcast and other website offerings sustainable, t-shirts, hats and other merchandise will soon be available for sale on the site. Finding advertisers is another goal.

Podcast listeners already include students from across the country and even the world, and Berger and Zimmermann hope to continue to attract new fans from the community of Maryville and beyond. Finding out how to promote the podcast outside of the current word-of-mouth method is a priority as they record two episodes per month, in addition to their teaching duties.

The podcast format is ideal for students already busy with classes, clinics and jobs, Zimmermann said. “They can listen to it while they do other activities, like running on a treadmill,” she said. “It’s also an easy task for hosts to adjust to their own busy lives. To be honest, it doesn’t sound like work – it’s really fun! And we’re really excited to attract more listeners and website visitors.

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