WOONSOCKET, R.I., Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of National Nurse Practitioner Week ( Nov. 11-17), MinuteClinic, the nation's largest provider of retail-based medical clinics, salutes the outstanding patient care delivered by nurse practitioners and continues to expand its role as a leader in creating educational and career development opportunities for members of the profession. "Every day, thousands of individuals across the United States see evidence of the compassion, care and patient education provided by nurse practitioners, and we see the appreciation for that care through consistently high customer satisfaction ratings," said Andrew Sussman, M.D., President, MinuteClinic and Senior Vice President/Associate Chief Medical Officer of CVS Caremark. "As the shortage of primary care physicians continues to grow and nurse practitioners play an even larger role in patient care, we are committed to creating advancement opportunities for clinicians through a growing program of preceptorships, residencies, scholarships and grants." MinuteClinic employs more than 2,000 nurse practitioners and physician assistants who treat patients at more than 600 walk-in medical clinics inside CVS/pharmacy stores in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In the past year, MinuteClinic has increased the number of nurse practitioner and physician assistant preceptorships at its clinics from 40 to more than 200. Spanning from a semester to a full academic year, the preceptorships give graduate-level students the opportunity to observe practitioners, learn clinical skills and see what it's like to work in a retail clinic setting. In addition, MinuteClinic launched its first nurse practitioner residency program in September in conjunction with the school of nursing at the Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. The program supports eight new graduates in their first year of practice as they transition from the classroom to the professional role. It includes educational modules and mentor-supported clinical practice to further build on the practitioners' medical and career skills. "We are currently working with more than 100 colleges and universities in the United States at various levels to support nurse practitioner and physician assistant education," said Paulette Thabault, Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer, MinuteClinic. "We also believe in the importance of developing new continuing education and research grants for professionals." MinuteClinic helps to fund scholarships at several schools and organizations including the United Negro College Fund and the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professionals, and it supports the work of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Nurse Practitioners and American Nurses Association among others.