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Authors

  1. Wood, Sylvia K. DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP

Abstract

Nurse practitioners are a vital and growing body of primary healthcare providers. The ever-changing advancements in science and technology and the increasing complexities in health care delivery are significant factors culminating in the expanding role of nurse practitioner-led care. Nurse educators are striving to develop nurse practitioner curricula to keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated knowledge and competencies nurse practitioners must possess to render safe quality care as independent primary health care providers. However, nursing theory is losing its place as a formative foundation in nurse practitioner curricula. Multiple factors such as content-laden, competency-based, medically focused education have caused a diminishing presence of nursing theory, shrinking the philosophical basis for nursing in nurse practitioner education. The loss of the central unifying focus of the discipline and discipline-specific knowledge (nursology) risks losing the very identity that forms the basis and relevance for nurse practitioner practice. Moreover, the loss of the nurse in the nurse practitioner unmoors nurse practitioner practice from its theoretical and scientific basis, losing discipline-specific attributes that lead to higher levels of patient satisfaction and improved patient outcomes. Keeping the nurse in the nurse practitioner is a moral imperative in nurses' ethical and social contract with society. This article discusses relevant literature and offers recommendations to keep the nurse in the nurse practitioner.