South Dakota has a unique layout and population distribution, which creates a significant need for primary care providers. However, the state faces a shortage of primary care doctors, which can be filled by family nurse practitioners. Family nurse practitioners can do many of the same tasks as doctors at a much lower cost to insurance companies and to patients.
Family nurse practitioners are often responsible for seeing patients, treating and diagnosing illnesses, and prescribing medications. In addition to patient care, family nurse practitioners may be expected to keep up on new nursing research and act as a leader in their health care facility.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (http://www.aanp.org/legislation-regulation/state-practice-environment), South Dakota requires nurse practitioners to have a collaborative agreement with the physician in order to practice. This might include a form that details the nurse practitioner's responsibilities, limitations, and information on when they must refer a patient to a physician. However, family nurse practitioners can still do many of the same tests and procedures as a doctor.
Family Nurse Practitioner Curriculum in South Dakota
Since South Dakota is fairly sparsely populated, advanced nursing programs tend to be spread out throughout the state. Many students find it more practical to choose a school that offers online classes, which can allow you to complete coursework on your schedule. This is an especially good option for nurses whose schedules change on a regular basis.
Early in your nursing program, you can expect to learn in-depth, advanced information that builds on what you already know as a nurse. Courses included in this group are Advanced Pathophysiology, Biostatistics, and Advanced Pharmacology. Other courses you may be expected to take include Ethical Issues Influencing Practice, and Cultural Competence in Healthcare.
A very important part of your nurse practitioner education is your clinical hours. During clinical hours, you get hands-on practice with what you've learned in your classes. As a family nurse practitioner student, you can expect to see patients of all ages and healthcare needs. Since clinical hours are done in the community, this is a good way to start networking and preparing for your post-graduation job search. In South Dakota, you can expect to complete up to 1500 clinical hours throughout the course of your program. Because of the amount of clinical hours required, most students graduate in four to five years.
Financing your Family Nurse Practitioner Program in South Dakota
South Dakota has many scholarship opportunities available for nurse practitioner students. If you join the Nurse Practitioner Association of South Dakota you can apply for their annual scholarships.
Family Nurse Practitioner Careers in South Dakota
After graduating from an accredited advanced nursing program, your next step is getting your advanced practice license from the South Dakota Board of Nursing. Once you've earned your initial license, you must renew it every year.
There are many employment opportunities for family nurse practitioners in the more sparsely populated parts of the state. Since there is a large reservation in South Dakota, there is a great need for culturally sensitive and aware nurse practitioners. Some of the largest employers in South Dakota include Prairie Lakes Healthcare and the City of Sioux Falls.
One of the easiest ways to learn about new job postings is joining the Nurse Practitioner Association of South Dakota. In addition to learning about new job postings, you can also stay updated on nursing legislature and network with other health care practitioners.