Survey of APPs highlights need for proper education

April 17, 2017

Amy Hull, MSN, WHNP-BC,

Amy Hull, MSN, WHNP-BC, president-elect of the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates, is assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

A Urology Times article discussing a recent survey of advanced practice providers (APPs) by Joshua Langston, MD, and colleagues is a very timely and telling discussion of how APPs are practicing in urologic settings throughout the U.S.

APPs are increasingly utilized across a variety of specialties, serving as valuable members of many health care teams. However, with greater need and greater visibility of these providers, physicians, inpatient, and out-patient institutional leadership (as well as APPs themselves) have realized a tremendous need for structured education. APPs, which include physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses, are highly educated professionals who desire to grow their skill set through educational offerings that will allow them to practice to the height of their licenses and feel confident in their skills.

Of the 1,347 APPs surveyed, only 296 responded. Of these 296 respondents, only 6% reported some type of postgraduate training for their subspecialty role. Yet, 63% of the respondents stated they were performing moderate- to high-complexity procedures. As discussed in the article, this leads many health care providers in the field to question the quality and expertise of the procedures being performed.

Related - Survey: Majority of APPs perform advanced procedures

It is also concerning that out of 1,347 people surveyed, 1,051 subjects did not respond to the questionnaire, leading one to question why they did not participate. Is there a common theme that connects these APPs as non-responders? Could the actual number of APPs receiving structured training be less than 6%? Could that number actually be greater? These are questions one cannot answer without more tangible information about the non-responders.

Whether or not the survey is accurate, it is still important to ensure APPs receive proper education to perform their urologic duties. Unfortunately, much of the training needed to enable APPs to practice in urology is not offered in traditional educational settings.

However, organizations exist to meet the growing educational needs of these APPs, including the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA). With its symbiotic relationships with the AUA and the American Urogynecologic Society, SUNA is in a unique position to collaborate with physicians to provide expert education to the APPs who are coming into the urologic specialty. Many of the urologic providers within the SUNA organization are experts in their fields and are poised to serve as mentors for new urologic APPs. Structured educational offerings, networking with colleagues, and seeking out mentorships with qualified professionals may ensure the profession has well-trained APPs who enhance the urologic team, provide excellent patient care, and ensure continued growth of the specialty.

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