Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Access to health care in rural communities is challenged by workforce shortages. Nurse practitioners (NPs) have been filling the gap created by physician migration into specialty areas. Flex hospital legislation allows critical access hospitals (CAHs) to staff the emergency department with NPs or physician assistants without on-site physicians. NP education often lacks emergency and trauma curriculum, resulting in gaps in education and practice expectations and leading to significant role transition stress and turnover. The purpose of this project was to construct an evidence-based transition-to-practice residency program to support NPs providing emergency department care in the CAH. Theoretical frameworks used to guide the project include rural health theory, novice to expert, and from limbo to legitimacy frameworks. Global outcomes include increased quality of care, patient safety, NP job satisfaction, and decreased turnover. The quality improvement initiative engaged an interprofessional team of institutional and community stakeholders (n = 10) to develop primary products including the residency program, curriculum modules, and the secondary products necessary to implement and evaluate the project. Implementation will consist of a pilot followed by expansion throughout the rural health network. Evaluation will involve the CAH dashboard to monitor patient outcomes, Misener NP job satisfaction scale, and employee turnover rates. The project expands understanding of the on-boarding needs of rural NPs. The results of this project will serve as a guide to publish outcome data and collaborate with higher education to develop programs to award academic credit for paid clinical experiences leading to academic degrees.