WHAT DO NURSE PRACTITIONERS DO?
Sometimes we have clients that come in and think that their doctors have done something wrong. We often find out they were actually being treated by a Nurse Practitioner – so what do Nurse Practitioners do? What is the scope of their practice?
What’s Your Job Scope as a Nurse Practitioner?
It’s a good time to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) now; with the healthcare reform becoming a reality, there’s going to be a demand for NPs, especially in the field of family practice. With a master’s or doctoral degree under your belt and specialization options in various fields of medicine – pediatrics, acute care, adult care, geriatrics, women’s health, occupational health and neonatology – you could find positions as licensed and qualified NPs in various settings like hospitals, community clinics, health centers, health departments, nursing homes, hospice care settings, educational institutions, private medical practices, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations. Some nurse practitioners are also allowed to set up their own clinics depending on state laws and the locality of their practice.
Although the job designation and the scope of work for nurse practitioners may vary by the specialization, in general, NPs are responsible for:
· The diagnosis, treatment, evaluation and management of acute and chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.
· Conducting physical examinations and collecting patients’ medical histories.
· The prescription of drugs for certain ailments (NPs are allowed to prescribe certain drugs according to state laws)
· Ordering, performing and interpreting lab tests, X-rays, EKGs, MRI scans and other diagnostic procedures.
· Taking care of the rehabilitation and physical therapy aspects of patients’ recovery from surgery or an accident.
· Providing overall family healthcare and advice on issues like family planning, prenatal care and child care.
· Performing screenings for disease and immunizations for children.
· Providing regular care for patients in acute and critical care settings (acute care NPs)
· Assisting in minor surgeries by performing certain tasks that they are qualified for, under the supervision of qualified surgeons.
· Providing primary healthcare services to and educating the community about preventative care through the right diet, exercise and regular physical checkups.
· Counseling patients who are ill and discussing treatment plans and alternatives with them and their family.
As you can see, a nurse practitioner is more or less a doctor and a nurse combined; in some states, they are allowed to diagnose and treat patients, and prescribe medication under the supervision of a licensed physician while other states allow them to practice autonomously and treat certain kinds of chronic and lifestyle diseases. Nurse practitioners in family care tend to find fulfillment in rural areas where they are given more autonomy and are generally responsible for the health of a community. Those in acute and critical care work with surgeons and in emergency rooms. Whatever the setting, a nurse practitioner’s position is one of great responsibility and offers scope for both financial success and personal achievement.