What Does the Nurse Practitioner Role Involve?

Most people around the world today would agree that nurses are some of, if not the most important professionals in the healthcare industry today. Nurses play an extremely crucial role in healthcare and today, it’s never been so important for nurses to get advanced training to ensure that they can provide patients with the best standard of care.

Nurse practitioners are advanced healthcare professionals who are becoming more and more important in healthcare today. Nurse practitioners are filling the gap that has been left by the shortage of primary care physicians, which has resulted due to fewer medical students choosing this field. Nurse practitioners are stepping up and the demand for them is increasing by the day to ensure that everybody is able to receive the care standards that they are entitled to.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are advanced nursing professionals who have gone through advanced postgraduate training to work in either primary care or another specialist area of advanced nursing including psychiatric mental health, neonatal, pediatric, or adult-gerontology nursing to name a few. Nurse practitioners often have several postgraduate qualifications and have become extremely skilled professionals throughout their careers. In contrast with registered nurses, nurse practitioners often have a much higher level of autonomy and responsibility in their line of work.

In twenty US states, nurse practitioners are awarded full practice authority, where they are permitted to take on many of the tasks that a primary care physician would, including diagnosing, prescribing medication, and referring patients for additional treatment.

Daily Roles and Responsibilities of a Nurse Practitioner:

The everyday roles and responsibilities of a nurse practitioner will largely depend on the area of healthcare and the healthcare environment that they work in. In addition, the state where a nurse practitioner works can also impact their role since not all states offer full practice authority. Nurse practitioners will typically have a wide range of different tasks and responsibilities at work. In some clinical settings, including various outpatient and retail clinics that are often headed by nurse practitioners, these healthcare professionals are often the first that a patient will interact with. Nurse practitioners not only diagnose, prescribe, and treat patients, but they also provide important counseling and advice that is designed to facilitate preventative care and empower patients to take better care of their own health.

Different Nurse Practitioner Roles:

Nurse practitioners can get into a variety of different roles and specialty areas as a part of their careers. There are various different nurse practitioner roles to consider, each of which gives you the option to specialize even further. Some of the most popular roles that are available for nurse practitioners include:

Family Nurse Practitioner:

The role of a family nurse practitioner is one of the most in-demand right now since family nurse practitioners are typically the professionals that are filling the gap left by the shortage of primary care physicians. The role involves general primary healthcare responsibilities, and these nurse practitioners will deal with a range of patients from the general population. Family nurse practitioners might work alongside a primary care physician as part of a doctor’s office or run their own clinics in states where they have full practice authority. The RN to FNP program from Wilkes University is designed to prepare registered nurses for the family nurse practitioner role.

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner:

This nurse practitioner role involves working with adults and treating a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Generally, an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner will work with adults of all ages, although many will specialize in certain conditions or adults of a certain age such as seniors.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner:

These nurse practitioners have a role where they are mainly working with children. They work in a range of different healthcare environments where they may be treating children including general hospitals, pediatric hospitals, schools, doctor’s offices, pediatric outpatient clinics, and more. Pediatric nurse practitioners will generally specialize in conditions that typically affect infants, children, and adolescents.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner:

Registered nurses who are interested in working with patients with mental health conditions may be interested in a role as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. In this role, nurse practitioners will mainly work with patients who are suffering from a variety of mental health conditions. They may work in outpatient clinics or mental health clinics to offer treatments such as counseling or prescribing medication to a patient who require these to manage their condition. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners work in many healthcare settings including psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics, secure units, residential programs for mental health or drug abuse issues, additional support programs, community programs, and more.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner:

Neonatal nurse practitioners work with babies. There are thousands of babies born every year with low birth weight or other critical health conditions that leaves them requiring advanced care during the first few weeks or months of their lives. Neonatal nurse practitioners are highly specialized nurse practitioners trained in the conditions that typically impact these newborn babies. Most of the time, neonatal nurse practitioners will work in specialized neonatal wards, although they can also be found working in other settings including alongside primary care physicians and outpatient clinics. As this role is one of the most specialized options for nurse practitioners, it is also one of the most highly paid.

Surgical Nurse Practitioner:

The role of a surgical nurse practitioner involves working in the operating room and providing assistance with surgical procedures. While surgical nurse practitioners are not able to gain a license to independently conduct surgical procedures, they typically receive more advanced training compared to surgical nurses and as a result are able to provide more assistance in the operating room, particularly in difficult, high-stress surgical procedures.

Oncology Nurse Practitioner:

An oncology nurse practitioner works in a role where they focus on treating patients who have been diagnosed with various types of cancer. Most of the time, they are based in oncology departments of hospitals, hospices, and outpatient clinics. They will usually work together with other oncology specialists.

Retail Health Nurse Practitioner:

Retail health is a relatively new healthcare area that is known for being led by nurse practitioners. Most of the time, retail health is concerned with minor healthcare problems and allows patients to easily access the care that they need for problems that do not always warrant a doctor’s appointment or a visit to the ER. Retail clinics are typically found in supermarkets or drugstores and provide a convenient and often cheaper way of getting care for minor health issues.

Why Nurse Practitioners are So Important to Healthcare:

Regardless of the specialty area that they choose to go into, nurse practitioners provide an increasingly important role in healthcare. There are many reasons for registered nurses to consider a role as a nurse practitioner in the future. Nurse practitioners are a crucial part of the healthcare industry today as they offer a service that is much more than simply caregiving, with a wide range of roles, responsibilities, and more authority compared to registered nurses.

In many states today, nurse practitioners are absolutely essential to the healthcare industry and primary care would no longer be possible without nurse practitioners, as the shortage of primary care physicians leads to higher demand. Nurse practitioners do more than simply provide care to their patients. In addition to promoting preventative care as they build relationships with their patients, nurse practitioners are also some of the biggest advocates for patient care.

Why Nurse Practitioners are in Higher Demand:

Nurse practitioners ranked as the most hired healthcare professional in 2013. Since then, the demand for these professionals has only grown even further, mainly due to the shortage of primary care physicians and the need for an alternative option to ensure that patients are provided with the standards of care that they expect and are entitled to.

Today, nurse practitioners are some of the most in-demand healthcare professionals in the US and the role is enjoying a huge rate of growth that is higher than most other healthcare positions, including primary care physicians. Some of the main reasons behind the growth in demand for nurse practitioners include:

Retail Clinic Growth:

Retail clinics are becoming increasingly more convenient for patients who need to access healthcare services for minor problems that they may need advice for without visiting the doctor’s office or the ER. Retail health clinics are usually found in drugstores, supermarkets, and other retail environments, retail clinics are becoming an increasingly popular option for patients who want to get healthcare advice and treatment while they are out running errands. Retail clinics are often run exclusively by nurse practitioners, with many offering high insurance coverage rates and high deductibles.

Demographic Changes:

The aging population means that healthcare professionals are in higher demand. Older patients often bring more demand for specialist healthcare services since they are more likely to require treatment for chronic health issues and other specialist healthcare needs. The US population is expected to grow by 10% by 2025, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. However, a massive 45% of that growth is expected to be within the senior demographic. Seniors are expected to make up almost half of the population in just a few years.

Physician Shortage:

One of the main factors behind the growing demand for nurse practitioners is the fact that fewer medical students are deciding to become primary care physicians. Because of this, more healthcare employers are hiring nurse practitioners to close the gap that has occurred as a result of this shortage and ensure that patients are able to continue receiving consistent standards of care. Since more nurse practitioners have been hired to provide primary care to patients, research has shown that the care patients receive under a nurse practitioner has been reported to be equal to or better than the care provided by primary care physicians, with most patients highly satisfied. This is often down to the fact that nurse practitioners have often gained a high level of experience working in a nursing role, which gives them an advantage over other healthcare professionals.

Growing Demand for Mental Health Care:

Due to the growing demand for mental health services, there has also been an increase in demand for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. The demand for more mental health services has also risen significantly due to the COVID19 pandemic, which has impacted the mental health of many people around the world leading to more individuals seeking help and support for a range of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The Reasons to Start a Career as a Nurse Practitioner:

Whether you are right at the beginning of a career in nursing or are currently working as a registered nurse and want to take your career to the next level and get into a more advanced nursing role, there’s never been a better time than the present to consider starting a career as a nurse practitioner.

High demand means that finding work wherever you go is easier than ever and right now, nurse practitioners have a lot of choice when it comes to where they want to work and what kind of role they’d prefer to do the most. In addition, high demand for nurse practitioners also means high levels of job security and a great career outlook. Along with being one of the most secure healthcare roles out there today, nurse practitioners also earn a generous salary, are highly respected, and still have a lot of room for even further career progression and advancement either within the nurse practitioner role or into more advanced aspects of nursing including management and education.

Working as a nurse practitioner gives you more autonomy and responsibility in your work, allowing you to take on similar responsibilities to a primary care physician and offering a more generous salary, the option to start your own clinic or other healthcare business, and enjoy very high demand for your specialized skills and experience.

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