Sandoval County will celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week later this month.

National Nurse Practitioner Week runs Nov. 12-18 and celebrates the 325,000-plus licensed nurse practitioners in the country. There are more than 3,000 nurse practitioners serving the residents of New Mexico.

At the Oct. 25 Sandoval County Commission meeting, Chair Dave Heil read a proclamation in support of the New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council celebrating National Nurse Practitioner Week.

“Nurse practitioners play a critical role in the health care system of Sandoval County and across New Mexico, providing high-quality, patient-centered care in a variety of settings, including primary care practices, hospitals clinics and long-term care facilities across the lifespan of patients,” Heil said.

Nurse Practitioner Andrea Maloney was on hand to accept the proclamation.

“I appreciate you reading the proclamation and emphasizing the importance that nurse practitioners play for caring for all the residents in Bernalillo County and Sandoval County,” Maloney said. “We serve the population that has limited access to health care. There are many New Mexicans right now insured and uninsured that have no access. So I appreciate you supporting our proclamation. The governor has agreed to sign on as well. So that’s great news.”

Nurse practitioners are vital to addressing the growing demand for primary care services, with more than 1 billion visits to nurse practitioners each year and an estimated one in five Americans receiving care from a nurse practitioner annually.

“I would just like to say that it’s a great when people become nurse practitioners,” Commissioner Michael Meek said. “I called for a doctor’s appointment; they told me I could get in sometime in December. And I said, ‘Well, how about a nurse practitioner?’ ‘Oh, two days.’ My wife works in neonatal intensive care as a nurse, and nurse practitioners are extremely important there with the lack of doctors that we have in the state to begin with. So thank you so much for the program, and we’re glad to be recognizing the group.”

Nurse practitioners are highly trained, licensed professionals who have completed rigorous education and clinical training a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing and national certification in their areas of specialization.

“I believe that nurse practitioner position came about roughly in about the 1960s because of a shortage of once again doctors back then and today. And the education requirements to be a nurse practitioner are quite impressive,” Commissioner Jay Block said. “Really, thank you for what you do because we have such a shortage of docs, especially in the rural areas. I really appreciate what you do and all the training that you had to go through, and I think being a nurse practitioner, you probably get more patient interaction than some of the MDs. So thank you for what you do.”