Challenge and Opportunity: Nurse Practitioner Programs Partnering with Managed Care

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PurposeTo examine the experiences of nurse practitioner (NP) students who participated in a collaborative educational program between the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Health New England (HNE) Health Plan, Springfield, MA. Nurse practitioner faculty and managed care executives shared resources to educate NP students and to address their perceptions about managed care.Data SourcesVerbatim transcriptions and journal writings of students specifically designated as Partnerships for Quality Education (PQE) trainees” and reports of their fellow classmates, all of whom received varying extent of access to managed care theory, administrative, and clinical experiences within the HNE plan.ConclusionsThe experiences of the PQE trainees revealed a greatly expanded understanding of managed care that challenged students' previous beliefs. They reported greater satisfaction with program participation than their classmates, had an unprecedented opportunity to articulate the NP role to a managed care organization (MCO), and learned that a collaborative, rather than an adversarial, relationship with an MCO produces better outcomes for patients and providers. Many students in the class, including some of the PQE trainees, were concerned, however, about what they perceived as managed care “taking time away from clinical issues,” which they considered more important. Implications for Teaching and Practice There is a need for balance between both managed care and clinical content in NP programs, yet students must have an intimate grasp of both if they are to survive in today's health care environment.

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