LAS VEGAS — The demand for advance-practice nurse practitioners to deliver front-line care to acutely ill pediatric patients in hospital settings is growing quickly, driving a need for more acute-care NP training programs and better alignment of educational requirements with practice needs.

As more intensivists retire early, and less than 1% of medical school graduates pursue careers in critical-care practice settings, the time is right to expand nurse practitioner teams and leadership in these areas, Tara Trimarchi, MSN, RN, CRNP, said at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners 2015 meeting.

Emerging evidence suggests that patient outcomes in NP-led acute-care teams tend to be better on nursing-sensitive quality indicators, according to Trimarchi, who serves as an advance-practice nurse manager in the Critical Care, Radiology & Sedation department of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

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Preliminary data from the first-year performance evaluation of an NP driven front-line team at CHOP indicate that care indicate the model offers several advantages, including decreased hospital acquired infections.

Another advantage of using NPs for front-line care delivery, standardized scheduling and having an NP-patient ratio that matches skills and competency.

Unfortunately, NPs in acute-care settings are too often hired to absorb resident workload after the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) placed restrictions on work hours – a plan that is not sustainable and does not utilize NPs to the full extent of their abilities.

“Rather than using NPs to perpetuate traditional medical teaching models, we should use this as an opportunity to innovate front-line care delivery, to better meet the needs of patients, and to create sustainable roles for acute-care NPs,” Trimarchi said.