Students visiting Student Health and Counseling Services on the SDSU campus may not realize how fortunate they are to be cared for by the facility’s staff of nurse practitioners. Gov. Mike Rounds wants South Dakota to know how lucky the state is, as he has declared November 6 through 12 National Nurse Practitioner Week.Rounds’ proclamation reads, “In recognition of the many contributions that this dedicated group of healthcare professionals makes to the health and well-being of the people in the communities they serve . . .”South Dakota has 309 licensed nurse practitioners and SDSU has 12 on faculty. Carla Dieter, coordinator of the nurse practitioner program, said that the faculty collaborates with physicians from the Brookings Hospital.”They’re part faculty, part nurse practitioner,” she said. “They have a part-time practice in addition to teaching.”Students in the nurse practitioner program at SDSU graduate with a master’s degree, according to Dieter.”We graduate 15 to 20 per year,” she said. Students have options when it comes to where and how they complete the program. “We have students from all over: Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska,” Dieter said.Those completing the distance-based option are required to come to campus once a semester during clinical courses, Dieter said.She also conducts video conferences with the distance-based students.Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education and advanced clinical training. Most have master’s or post-master’s degrees.”They diagnose common acute and stable chronic conditions,” Dieter said. Besides diagnosing such health problems as strep throat, hypertension, asthma and diabetes, they prescribe medications, treat illnesses and counsel patients on healthcare issues.Many nurses work in rural areas and local communities.”More than 20 percent of nurse practitioners practice in rural settings with populations of less than 25,000, and (of the) 62 percent who work in cities with populations of more than 50,000,” according to Rounds’ proclamation.Students must take a national certification exam upon completion of the program. The national average for passing is 85 percent. Last year, SDSU students had a 100 percent passing rate.”We’re on our way this year too,” Dieter said.Michele Wieseler, of Miller, is enrolled in the distance-based program.”I loved going to school, so I’m expanding my nursing career,” she said.Wieseler completed her associate and bachelor’s degrees at Presentation College.”Having a career and getting a graduate degree is doable with the Internet. SDSU has many opportunities,” Wieseler said.She is completing her graduate degree while at home working by taking one class a semester.”I anticipated that I would get lost in the shuffle (at a big school), but I feel very taken care of. They help us succeed,” she said of the faculty.
#1.884903:3084066428.jpg:nfa02_tc.jpg:Melissa Scotting demonstrates how to care for an injured leg on Michael Garrett.:Ty Carlson