6 Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Nurse Practitioners
Although nurse practitioners (NPs) have been caring for patients for more than 50 years, they’re playing a larger-than-ever role in today’s healthcare system.
That’s because NPs have stepped up to meet the demand for primary and specialty healthcare services in the U.S. by providing personal, patient-centered care for everything from common colds to chronic and serious health conditions.
Despite the growing number of NPs, many patients still aren’t aware of the benefits of seeing a NP—or the role NPs play in helping patients to achieve and maintain optimal health.
Here are six interesting facts that you need to know about NPs:
1. Nurse Practitioners have advanced training.
It takes many years in the classroom—and many hours of real-world experience—to become a NP.
In addition to becoming a registered nurse (RN) after two or four years of college, NPs also have a minimum of a master’s degree in a special field of study. Some NPs have doctorate degrees.
Because of this advanced training, NPs have more responsibility than RNs and can write prescriptions, order and interpret tests and perform exams. NPs also are required to take training courses throughout their career to help keep their skills up to date.
2. Nurse Practitioners treat the whole patient.
NPs are trained using the nursing model of patient care, which focuses on the well-being of the whole patient—and that means that they do much more than diagnose and treat health problems.
NPs work closely with patients to help them achieve wellness goals and maintain good health. Although NPs treat illnesses, injuries and chronic conditions, they also work closely with patients to provide education, prevent future health problems and address lifestyle concerns such as diet, exercise, stress management and weight loss.
3. Nurse Practitioners can practice alone in some states.
Although NPs are licensed to practice in all U.S. states and the District of Columbia, the rules they must follow vary from state to state.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), 23 states (including Connecticut) currently allow NPs to practice fully without the supervision of a physician. Other states only allow NPs to perform certain tasks or require the supervision of a physician.
4. Nurse Practitioners provide primary care—and many other healthcare services.
Although the AANP reports that nearly 90 percent of NPs are certified in some type of primary care, they do more than just perform physical exams, prescribe medicine and diagnose and treat illnesses.
NPs can provide a full range of healthcare services, including identifying and managing chronic disease, ordering and interpreting tests, prescribing physical therapy, making referrals to other healthcare providers and performing minor procedures, such as stitching wounds, casting and skin biopsies.
5. Nurse Practitioners work in nearly every healthcare setting and medical specialty.
Many NPs work in primary care practices, but they can be found in just about any community healthcare setting.
NPs also provide care at walk-in clinics, schools, hospitals, home health agencies and nursing homes. Some NPs answer phone calls on nurse helplines offered by insurance companies and provide after-hours phone coverage for physicians.
In addition to specializing in adult or family care, NPs can specialize in gerontology (caring for older people), neonatology (caring for newborns), pediatrics (caring for children), mental health, school health and women’s health.
Within each of these specialty areas, NPs can sub-specialize. According to the AANP and other online sources, NP sub-specialty areas include:
- Allergy and immunology
- Emergency medicine
- Hematology and oncology
- Occupational health
- Pulmonology and respiratory medicine
- Sports medicine
- Weight loss management
6. Nurse Practitioners collaborate with other physicians.
If necessary, NPs will work closely with other physicians to help their patients get the treatment they need.
If a patient has a complex condition or requires specialty care, NPs will consult with other physicians (either within the same practice or through a referral) on the diagnosis and best course of treatment. In states that require NPs to be supervised by a physician, NPs work as part of a healthcare team to provide top-notch care.
Here’s the bottom line:
For patients who are looking for comprehensive care with a personal touch, highly qualified and extensively trained NPs are a great option.
Whether you need primary care services or acute care for an illness or injury, the NPs at The Nurse’s Office are here for you. To find out more about how the NPs at The Nurse’s Office can help you achieve and maintain optimal health, visit www.thenursesoffice.com, call (860) 603-3541 or walk in for immediate care.