National Nurse Practitioners Week celebrated Nov. 8-14

Published 10:12 am Monday, November 16, 2015

Nurse practitioners have a special reason to celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week, Nov. 8-14. Fifty years ago, at the University of Colorado, the first nurse practitioner program was established. And 50 years later, there are more than 205,000 nurse practitioners licensed to practice in the United States.

“Nurse practitioners are serving as a lifeline for patients, many who would otherwise struggle to access care,” said Grey Watson, practice operations manager for Sentara Dominion Health Medical Associates. “It is our hope that patients, as well as their families, employers and legislators, will join us in recognizing and honoring the national nurse practitioner community throughout this milestone 50th anniversary year.”

Nurse practitioners are licensed, expert clinicians with advanced education (most have master’s and many have doctorate degrees) and extensive clinical preparation who provide primary, acute and specialty health care services. In addition to providing a full range of services, nurse practitioners work as partners with their patients, guiding them to make educated health care decisions and healthy lifestyle choices.

National Nurse Practitioner Week is a time to celebrate these exceptional health care providers and to remind lawmakers of the importance of removing outdated barriers to practice so that NPs will be allowed to practice to the full extent of their experience and education so that patients are allowed full and direct access to all the services NPs are educated and certified to provide. Nurse practitioners are informed, in touch and involved, making them the health care providers of choice for millions and a solution to the primary care crisis in America.

Vicki Whitfield, FNP, from Sentara Clarksville Family Medicine, derives satisfaction from knowing she can help lead her patients to a level of wellness which will increase their overall quality of life.

“Being a nurse practitioner allows me to meet a wider range of health care needs than when I was an RN,” she says. “I get so much satisfaction from educating patients about their health care needs and seeing a person make healthy changes as a result.

Amanda Igata,FNP, from Sentara Halifax Family Medicine, says the diversity of her patients and their health care needs allow her to use a wide spectrum of skills. She enjoys building lasting relationships with her patients.

“The fulfillment I receive as a nurse practitioner comes from the comments made by my patients. If we came up with a treatment plan that worked great for them, often times my patients will return to let me know. It is very rewarding when this happens because it not only validates your assessment and treatment plan; it establishes a trusting patient-provider relationship,” Igata says.

There are twelve nurse practitioners located in Sentara primary care and specialty care physician offices throughout Southern Virginia. Nurse practitioners meet the primary, specialty, and acute care needs of their patients, using a high level of medical expertise and enhancing patient satisfaction.

In a population that is aging, with baby boomers becoming seniors in growing numbers, having choices about healthcare providers will become even more important. National Nurse Practitioner Week gives visibility to the role of the nurse practitioner, helping consumers make wise choices when selecting their healthcare provider.

To learn more about our nurse practitioners and other Sentara health care providers in Southern Virginia, visit