by Linda Hass, Published July 09, 2014
Autonomy. Flexibility. Fulfillment. These are among the reasons Heather McCurdy (BSN10) chose to earn her master’s degree through Eastern’s School of Nursing.
McCurdy, a clinical coordinator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and mother to a 10-year-old, long dreamed of caring for her own patients, but being a single mother with a full-time job left her little time to pursue a conventional graduate degree.
Now, thanks to EMU’s new Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (NP) track, McCurdy will be able to fulfill her dream—along with other working professionals longing to advance in their careers.
The NP track is a 2-year program geared toward experienced nurses. Classes, which mostly meet one night a week at the EMU-Livonia campus, are designed to accommodate working professionals, according to Sherry Bumpus, associate director of program innovations for the School of Nursing.
In fact, the program was developed in response to requests from students and nurses who work in the many health care facilities in the surrounding areas, says Laurie Blondy, the School Nursing’s associate director of graduate studies.
“Primary care adult-gerontology NPs are in high demand,” says Bumpus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for NPs are expected to grow faster than most occupations—at a rate of 31% between 2012 and 2022--due to the aging baby-boomer population, a greater emphasis on health prevention, and new healthcare legislation.
Certified nurse practitioners work in areas as diverse as doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, community health centers, urgent care facilities and nursing homes, Bumpus says. The average full-time salary was about $98,000 in 2011.
“Certification will pave the way to greater autonomy in my job,” says McCurdy. “Currently, I assist doctors, but as a certified nurse practitioner I’ll be able to evaluate, assess and prescribe treatments to my own panel of patients.”
McCurdy, a published academic, works in the VA’s Liver Clinic, caring for patients with cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplant. She adds, “Certification also will give me the credentials to be able to do in-depth research in my field.”
Advanced training as nurse practitioners will allow fully educated, credentialed and licensed practitioners to function at the top of their license, performing physical assessments, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, diagnosing and managing patient care, and prescribing medications. Additionally, NPs share a caring and holistic perspective of health that emphasizes health promotion, risk reduction and disease prevention, Bumpus says.
McCurdy will be among the first cohort of 10 NP students, who will begin classes in Fall 2014. A second cohort will begin in Winter 2015, with about 20 students being admitted annually. Further information is available at: http://www.emich.edu/chhs/nursing.