FORT POLK, La. –
Nurse practitioners are a vital part of the health care team at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital providing diagnostic, preventative and collaborative health care to the Soldiers and Families stationed at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Nurse practitioner week is held annually the first week in November and this year’s theme is “going the extra mile,” according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of nurse practitioners and the important role they play in patient-centered care in rural communities like Fort Polk and the surrounding area.
April Draper Davis, chief of occupational medicine for BJACH Department of Public Health holds a doctorate in nursing practice from the Louisiana State University – Health Science Center in New Orleans.
Davis said fully licensed nurse practitioners who work on federal installations are not required to have a collaborating physician according to federal law, but in Louisiana her counterparts in the civilian sector are.
“What we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that having collaborative practice agreements caused delayed access to care for patients in our communities,” she said. “In Louisiana, the governor has waived the requirement for the CPA, but nurse practitioner advocacy groups are fighting to make it a law in order for it to be permanent.”
Jeanette Tilley, family nurse practitioner for BJACH patient-centered medical home, became a registered nurse in 1988.
“I wanted to become a nurse practitioner because I am a compassionate person and I saw there was a need in rural America,” she said. “Nurse practitioners are mid-level providers who can provide care for chronic or acute illnesses, collaborate with physicians and promote preventative medicine.”
Tilley said she was motivated to become a nurse practitioner in an effort to do more for her community.
“It’s important to highlight nurse practitioners as a profession because of the lack of access to care in some rural areas,” she said. “It is important for people to know that we are clinicians, we work in collaboration with other health care providers and we can fill that void.”
Danielle Craft, family nurse practitioner at BJACH said she became a nurse practitioner because she saw a shortage of family doctors.
“I want to ensure patients get the care they need when they need it,” she said. “I am proud to serve at BJACH, I am able to support our Soldiers and their Families with the care I can provide.”
Craft said nurse practitioners have the bedside experience necessary to give patients the compassionate and empathetic care they deserve.
Lt. Col. Marcia Brimm, a family nurse practitioner is the chief of the patient-centered medical home, soldier-centered medical home and the traumatic brain injury clinics at BJACH.
“As an Army Nurse Corps officer we play a critical role in providing primary health care support to our Soldiers and beneficiaries,” she said. “We are also called upon as physician multipliers providing primary and emergency quality care during contingency operations.”
Brimm said this allows providers to focus on trauma and more serious and complex medical issues at home and during deployment operations.
Editor’s Note: Northwestern State University offers a variety of nursing programs from associate degrees to doctorate degrees in nursing practice. To learn more, NSU School of Nursing and Allied Health is hosting a meet and greet at the Fort Polk Education Center from 3-7 p.m. Nov. 17.