The American Association of Nurse Practitioners states that nurse practitioners are licensed individuals who independently practice at a clinic. They emphasize prevention and control of deteriorating health conditions and illnesses.
The origin of the term- nurse practitioner lies in 1965, and their roles and scopes of practice have grown quite a bit since then. Today there’s specialization and sub-specialization for their role in various fields.
The areas of specialization include childcare, geriatrics, mental health and health of women. Further, nurse practitioners also study in core medical areas like cardiology, oncology, and dermatology. Hence, they attain the role of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).
For many, becoming a nurse practitioner(interlink-how to become a nurse practitioner page) is more attractive than becoming a physician. In fact, a study in which a national survey of clinicians was conducted, showed that 66% of physicians recommended careers as nurse practitioners.
The same study also indicated that a remarkable 88% of the nurse practitioners show complete satisfaction with their role and the resulting responsibilities.
Nurse Practitioner Requirements
An individual requires a basic master’s degree or equivalent certification level to take up a nurse practitioner’s role. Many aspiring nurse practitioners choose to purse a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree or a PhD in nursing. Various nurse practitioner schools(interlink-nurse practitioner programs, schools, page) offer different programs to pursue the various options for these nursing degrees.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing ensures that nurse practitioners follow the rules and regulations. A model regulatory framework assures that no nurse practitioner strays from the stipulated laws and practices according to the ethics body.
The first and foremost rule is to gain the appropriate licenses, grants, educational training, and necessary accreditation before initiating their practice. As per the curriculum’s expanse, adequately trained nurse practitioners will successfully perform their duties towards the general population’s health and wellness.
Responsibilities Of A Nurse Practitioner
You may wonder what does a nurse practitioner does. The question is natural, and the answer to it is simple and straightforward. Depending upon their area of specialization, a nurse practitioner has a myriad of responsibilities.
Further, with the arena of practice, the population seeking medical care and advice is also diverse and ever-increasing. A nurse practitioner has the authority to provide a diagnosis and discuss the risk factors associated with an illness that falls within their scope of practice.
Treatment and care are administered as per the knowledge and under the guidance of a trained healthcare specialist. Nurse practitioners are these very specialists and prepare a comprehensive program that covers all the aspects of patient care.
They prepare charts and reports of the candidate’s general health and adhere to the laws along with educating patients and loved ones about the numerous benefits of maintaining good health and how you can control disease symptoms if not cure them.
As medical professionals, nurse practitioners are always in sync with the emerging methods and technologies to further improve the patient’s condition. Hence, they are a knowledgeable set of healthcare professionals and establish a strong network of medical colleagues who collaborate and decide the best course of treatment depending upon an ailment’s progression.
Even though they’re trained and have the appropriate knowledge about the patient’s treatment, individual states don’t give them open access to the patients. Particular states allow them to practice only under the supervision and guidance of a licensed medical doctor.
Nurse Practitioner Specializations And Sub-Specialty Areas
The most famous and widely accepted role of the nurse practitioner is the one that involves the rehabilitation and care assistance provided to a family. Such practitioners are known as family nurse practitioners who provide their care and treatment to the ill person throughout his/her life.
The primary care specialists come in a close second in terms of popularity and demand for their expertise. They include both the median age group of people and the older population too.
Next are the emergency professionals referred to as acute care specialists who come into the picture in times of critical conditions and emergency care.
As we move on, there are pediatric care specialists who further specialize in the care of children and infants as well. There are women’s health specialists who address the needs of women and their overall health. Equipped with appropriate training and knowledge, they can easily notice any abnormalities in women from the time they attain puberty till menopause and soon after.
Last but not least, there’s the mental health discipline wherein the nurse practitioners are licensed to provide a complete care and wellness program to improve the mental health of the patients.
In the domain of sub-specializations, the nurse practitioners are actively involved in various medicine areas like dermatology, oncology, in-house and out-patient care, cardiology, immunology, and so forth.
The Skillset Required To Thrive As A Nurse Practitioner
As a rapidly growing career option, nurse practitioners are fast emerging as a coveted career paths. Job growth for nurse practitioners is expected to be rapid. The U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics projects 45% employment growth for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners.
The critical skills required to excel in the profession are a calm demeanor and handling situations well, even under stress or panic. They cannot afford to give in to the overwhelming feeling of anxiety because they’re the sole healthcare providers to the patient. Their responsibility is the health and well-being of the patient.
Further, they need to be good at problem-solving, decision-making, and other analytical skills so that they can quickly diagnose and report the next set of symptoms and treatment plan. Being empathetic and compassionate is also a huge bonus point and a desirable trait of a nurse practitioner.
Being an excellent communicator takes them a long way, especially while talking to the family and patient about their health condition. Attention to detail and the rules strictly following the rules is as important as any other skill acquired during the training program of being a nurse practitioner.
Pursuing A Career As A Nurse Practitioner
As mentioned above, this overview gives a comprehensive understanding of a nurse practitioner’s career and the associated responsibilities. If you are considering becoming a nurse practitioner, learn more about nurse practitioner salaries(interlink-nurse practitioner salaries page), school, and career opportunities.