Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have obtained, at the very least, a masters degree in nursing. Some go further to specialize in a particular area of nursing like oncology or urology. They occupy the professional gap between doctors and nurses, so their roles borrow a little from what doctors do and what registered nurses do. Their jobs have an element of the intense patient care that defines nursing but they also diagnose and treat chronic conditions and injuries, which is more of a doctor’s role.
Roles of a Nurse Practitioner
What a nurse practitioner can do is determined in most cases by state laws pertaining to the operation of nurse practitioners in that particular state. In some states, nurse practitioners can open and manage their own practice but in most, they cannot. The roles they perform, whether practicing independently or under a doctor, can be summarized:
1. Counselling and Educating Patients
Patient care is at the core of a nurse practitioner’s job. They spend a good amount of time with their patients informing them of the nature of their illness and the treatments available. They keep the patient’s family informed and involved so when it comes to selecting a treatment option, everybody is on the same page. Beyond treatment, nurse practitioners also educate patients on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
2. Diagnosing Various Conditions and Illnesses
Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses. They are trained to conduct and interpret diagnostic tests. After diagnosis, nurse practitioners focus on disease management by teaching methods of prevention and promotion of overall health and well being. They are also authorized to prescribe medication.
3. Maintain Patient Records
Nurse practitioners are tasked with collecting and keeping proper patient records and studying family backgrounds to establish what impact, if any, a patient’s background has on the patient’s health. These records are very important when it comes to making a diagnosis and selecting a course of treatment. Records also point to what the nurse practitioner should anticipate in the progression of a patient’s condition.
Nurse practitioners play a very important role in achieving universal and affordable health care. They fill the gaps left by a shortage of doctors in the health care system. This makes the course a very marketable one. In fact, nurse practitioners form the bulk of primary care givers in the United States because they have specialized training in almost every area of nursing practice. For instance, the Advanced Urology Institute, which is a specialized urology practice, engages a good number of nurse practitioners. They can help with any questions and concerns you may have, assist with diagnosis, treatment and follow-up management of health plans. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.