U opening first nurse-led clinic

A new law allowed the clinic to open, and some say it may help with health worker shortages.

Dean of the Medical School Brooks Jackson, left, and Dean of the School of Nursing Connie White Delaney, prepare to cut the ribbon at the Nurse Practitioners Clinic Tuesday evening. The new nurse-led clinic will officially open April 6.

Dean of the Medical School Brooks Jackson, left, and Dean of the School of Nursing Connie White Delaney, prepare to cut the ribbon at the Nurse Practitioners Clinic Tuesday evening. The new nurse-led clinic will officially open April 6.

Logan Wroge

The University of Minnesota’s first nurse-led clinic will open in less than two weeks, following a new law that allows nurse practitioners to work independently from physicians.

Besides providing patient care, the Nurse Practitioners Clinic will act as a training ground for students when it opens on April 6. The health care facility is operated by the School of Nursing, and school leaders say it will help fill health professional shortages statewide, while also giving short-term treatment.

“It’s a new paradigm in health care that nurse practitioners are at the forefront of the nurse movement toward providing independent practice,” said Jane Anderson, a nurse practitioner and the clinic’s director. “Also, it will be a very dynamic site for students as well.”

The University held a ceremonial opening for the clinic on Tuesday, following a new law that allows for advanced practice registered nurses to work independently of physicians and run their own clinics. Prior to the policy change, which went effect January 1, nurse-ran clinics needed to have a collaborative agreement with a physician.

School officials, state and local lawmakers and nurses gathered at the downtown east clinic on Tuesday to celebrate the clinic’s upcoming opening.

The new clinic can help fill health professional shortages across the state, Medical School Dean Dr. Brooks Jackson said at Tuesday’s ceremony.

Minnesota joins 19 other states and the District of Columbia where nurse practitioners can perform evaluations and treatments on patients, such as prescribing medications, independent of physicians.

The University nursing and pharmacy students will train at the clinic, which Anderson said will staff about six employees when it opens.

Employees at the nurse practitioner clinic will treat short-term illnesses, such as fevers and rashes, as well as administer care for chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

Anderson said, in the future, the clinic could add mental health services as well.

“It’s our duty as advanced practice nurses to provide an opportunity for the future of our profession,” Anderson said.

Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, co-authored the bill to allow nurse practitioners to work independently of physicians. Though the legislation recently passed, she said she had been working on it for the past six years.

At the Capitol last year, Murphy said the Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton supported the proposal, but some members of the House of Representatives opposed it. She said those legislators were concerned with how the clinics would administer anesthesia.

Currently, staff members are training at the clinic, Anderson said. And even though it doesn’t open until next month, appointments are already being scheduled.

If the clinic is successful, the University would be interested in expanding nurse-led clinics around the state, Jackson said at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“This is sort of a game-changing event,” he said. “Everybody knows that health care delivery is changing.”