How Telenurses Impact Healthcare in Rural Communities

By admin / March 25, 2019

Are you looking to further your career in nursing? Perhaps you’ve been working with a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) as an RN but would like to advance your career? At the moment you live in a small town but commute miles each day to work at a regional hospital. Why not spend some of your free time advancing to a Master of Science in Nursing? With this degree, you can gain some amount of autonomy and perhaps better serve the small community in which you live.

Why not consider online MSN programs so that you can become a Nurse Practitioner, NP, and this is where you would be in a position to work at home without traveling miles. You could be a telenurse! Do you want to make an impact in the small community in which you live? Consider the following ways telenurses impact healthcare in rural communities.

The Number One Reason for a Lack of Doctors in Rural Communities

If you have ever lived in a small, rural community, you know there are services you simply can’t find like you do in larger cities. Many times there are so few people in a town that the closest supermarket is at least a half hour’s drive by car and sometimes there are no local doctors, let alone hospitals. It has always been a problem getting doctors to set up practice in rural communities for a number of reasons, but usually it’s the cost of med school that is a concern.

As of 2014, it was estimated that it would ultimately cost $2.6 million to become a doctor. Let that sink in for just a moment. That’s right, the cost of that degree is over two-and-a-half million dollars. While there are government grants and incentives that help pay tuition for those committing to serving rural communities, most doctors still leave med school with a debt of $170,000 or more. Small communities simply can’t provide the patient load to make it profitable to set up a practice there.

Telenurses Can Work as Primary Providers

As a Nurse Practitioner, you will have a certain amount of autonomy that varies from state to state. Sometimes you must work under a medical doctor and in some states you can offer many of the same services which doctors can provide. One of the biggest advances in Internet medicine is now having the ability to video consult with patients. Many small, rural communities have telenursing services contracted through a close regional hospital.

A telenurse consults via video conferencing with a patient. Many insurance companies will not pay or reimburse for tele consultations, but most patients are willing to cover the cost if given the option of not leaving their home when they are seriously ill. Telenurses with an MSN/NP degree can diagnose, prescribe medications and offer clinical advice in much the same way as an MD.

Helping Prevent Patient Overload at Regional Hospitals

One of the major reasons why some hospitals have busier-than-average ER departments is because of the influx of patients from outlying areas. With no local doctors or clinics in rural areas, patients who come down with anything from fevers to nausea and diarrhea flock to regional emergency rooms. Not only is this an inconvenience for a sick patient to drive a great distance, but it also puts a strain on those hospitals trying to serve an already large patient base.

Helps to Mitigate the Spread of Contagions

One of the questions so many people ask during flu season year after year is just how they contracted an influenza virus when they never leave their small community. Yes, some people work in the nearest city while others drive to go shopping or to a doctor in town. It has been suggested that those who choose the services of a telenurse are helping to prevent further spread of viral infections. If you don’t have influenza now, you just might contract it at a local hospital where potentially hundreds of patients are presenting with those symptoms. Conversely, if a patient has the flu, they are much more likely to spread it at an ER than if they stayed at home under the care of a telenurse.

What This Means for You

In the end, this not only helps you further your career, but it also gives you a better salary at the same time. It is estimated that a Nurse Practitioner with an MSN degree earns at least 60% more than a nurse with a BSN. Not only will you be advancing your career, but you will be filling a much-needed void in rural medicine and making more money in the process. It’s a win-win solution to a growing crisis, and you can be a part of the solution.

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