April 10, 2009

Cooper sees nursing ‘golden age’ ahead

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From left, Michael Briley, D.N.P., A.P.N., U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and VUSN Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., prior to Cooper's presentation, part of the School of Nursing's Centennial Lecture series. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Cooper sees nursing ‘golden age’ ahead

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper welcomed the audience to what he called the “golden age of nursing” as he kicked off the latest installment in the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing's Centennial lecture series.

“By golden age, I mean growing prosperity for nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses and nurses and also expanded scope of practice and reimbursement.”

In his speech to an audience of students, faculty, community leaders and VMC leaders, Cooper discussed how nurses are well positioned for the changing health care market and reform initiatives.

“Although most golden ages can be seen only in the rear view mirror, this one can be spotted through the windshield, and I hope you can see it like I can,” said Cooper.
He cited the trend of physicians abandoning general medicine and its result on what he called an “oversupply of specialists.”

He backed up this claim with several sources showing that the United States has one of the highest costs of health care, and yet is typically not ranked in the top 15 in health care outcomes.

Cooper also recognized that nurses focus on a holistic approach to care delivery that helps ensure accurate diagnosis, prescriptions and appropriate treatment, and he emphasized that Congress is acknowledging the role that nurses play since all of the major health reform proposals will support nursing in some way.

“At the minimum, nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses will fill the many gaps left by today's physicians,” he said. “More comprehensive reform will lean toward complete parity of the healing professions. This trend is undeniable.”

Cooper also discussed health care reform, which he believes should trump global warming as one of the administration's top initiatives.

He supports The Healthy Americans Act, a bi-partisan bill that provides coverage for everyone using private plans.

Cooper believes that passing health care reform will be challenging and described the issue in financial terms.

“The most fundamental equation in health care is the simple truism that the $2.4 trillion that we are currently spending on health care is exactly equal to $2.4 trillion of vested interests — none of whom want to give up a penny,” said Cooper.

To view the entire lecture, go to http://www.nursing.vanderbilt.edu/centennial/lectures.html#jim.