Nurse practitioner programs are understandably in high demand. These programs offer students a great alternative to attending medical school. Unfortunately there has been a hidden flaw with these programs in that many nurse practitioner students have not been able to find the clinical placement or preceptors required to complete their degrees. Nurse Practitioner programs have not been required by the CCNE to provide them, until now. Finally the tide has changed and the onus of arranging the clinical aspects of NP programs will no longer fall on the students themselves.
Nurse Practitioner programs have been on a lonely island when it comes to programs being required to provide the proper environments for program completion. Many NP students have been left out to dry with huge debt and no degree when they find they are required to coordinate their clinical sites, their own preceptors. The students may even be required to arrange the affiliation agreements between their programs and a potential site in order to have a chance it have it approved.
The CCNE, which is the main accrediting body for NP programs, requires a 70% completion rate for NP programs it accredits (2). For some reason this simple standard seems to have slipped through the cracks. NP programs who do not provide any type of clinical placement assistance typically have a computer legion rate of around 20% (3). Programs have been able to continue to operate with such dismal completion rates even though the accrediting standard was much higher. What is worse is that the actual completion rates may have been misrepresented to potential students, thus luring students into a situation without a true perspective on the reality. This type of scenario illuminates the need to standards to be enforced across the board.
The Sawyer Initiative:
Shea Sawyer, a nurse practitioner, took the bull by the horns with his Sawyer Initiative. It has addressed the grave concerns of the nurse practitioner student community and brought them to the forefront of the accrediting body. The Sawyer Initiative’s persistent clear and objectives finally won over the CCNE. It sought to have programs offering nurse practitioner education to be required to provide the clinical environment and preceptors for their students, and it has been granted. As of 2019 the new accrediting standards of the CCNE required these programs to provide the proper clinical support to their students (1). This is a major win the nurse practitioner student community.
Now that the Sawyer Initiative has successfully lobbied the CCNE to change their standards, the nurse practitioner educational community will be able to thrive. There may well be some changes in the number of schools offering NP program. Some schools may lose their accreditation if they do not comply, however the end result is that NP students will no longer be subject to the complete coordination of the requirements on an NP program in order to pursue their dreams. NP students will now enjoy the same level of support from their educational programs as RN’s and MD’s. Finally the educational system for NP student has achieved the proper equilibrium.