The job of a nurse practitioner (NP) could be similar to that of a physician. Along with clinical care, NPs also have the responsibility of educating the patients on positive health and also work with various health care experts. We shall discuss the diverse nurse practitioner career opportunities along with the specialization of NP in various aspects of the medical field. To further in this career it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of who is a nurse practitioner and how to become a nurse practitioner in the desired field of expertise and hence this is also discussed.
Who is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) with additional qualifications such as; a doctoral degree or a master’s degree; and training in a specific field of medicine. In other words, an NP can also be termed as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).
Various nurse practitioner career opportunities are offered through nursing homes, community clinics, health departments, hospitals, home health care agencies, clinics of colleges and schools, walk-in clinics, and offices of physicians.
Increasing Demand for Nurse Practitioners
There is an ever-increasing demand for nurse practitioners all over the world, as NPs can not only replace a physician in an emergency situation, but they are also more of a friend to the patients and to their families to help them completely in overcoming the disease.
Under the increasing pressure of balancing the cost and quality of the medical industry, health planners rely more on NPs as the choice for a wide range of services offered in the front-line such as; preventive care, primary care, assisting old people in chronic diseases, home care, and educating people on how to keep away from injuries and hospital expenses, etc. The other reason for the increase in nurse practitioner career opportunities is perhaps, because; nurse practitioners render better services than physicians for a lower cost.
The opportunities are more in the rural areas and parts of inner cities where services of physicians are not that easily available. The need for quality service to under-served people such as old people and children of remote schools are more and nurse practitioners are often utilized for such services.
Even community centers for health care, which offer various services such as; mental health, pharmacy, oral health, drug abuse, and other supportive services demand nurse practitioners for services.
Nurse practitioners have a broad scope of skills compared to RNs with the main difference being a nurse practitioner having the ability in medicine prescription. Since the nurse practitioner career opportunities are embedded in the health industry, job security is assured, due to the ever-increasing older population and never-ending health issues of people.
The new position that is currently evolving is the need for these nurse practitioners to act as aids to the individually practicing physicians.
Career Responsibilities of a Nurse Practitioner
The clinical side of the nurse practitioner career opportunities is huge and versatile. The role of an NP includes the following responsibilities:
- To obtain medical histories of patients
- Conduct physical examinations
- To diagnose, evaluate, manage, and treat chronic and acute diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
- To prescribe drugs for chronic and acute health issues. This varies based on the local government rules and might differ between countries and states.
- To provide family planning services and parental care.
- To provide rehabilitation treatments and the required physical therapies.
- To provide specialty care services along with the basic services.
- To offer annual physical and health maintenance for adults.
- To provide child care including immunizations and screening.
- To perform and assist surgeries and other procedures under the supervision of physicians. This includes suturing, casting, dermatological biopsies.
- To educate and counsel patients on positive health care, health behaviors, and deciding treatment options.
- To order, perform, and interpret diagnosis on routine lab tests, EKGs, bone x-rays, etc.)
Qualification, Skills, and Training Required for Nurse Practitioner Career
To seek the best nurse practitioner career opportunities, all that is required is a degree of graduate in nursing, a certificate and a license to start the practice. It also requires additional skills than mere knowledge along with practical exposure in hospital surroundings.
Personal Record – To become a prospective nurse practitioner, it is necessary to provide personal details, which include academic records, a personal letter of recommendation, and have to clear the criminal background checking to work with patients.
Graduate Degree – The basic academic need for a nurse practitioner is a doctorate degree (Ph.D) or a master of science in nursing (MSN) from a recognized university.
License – The next major and important step is to acquire a license to practice as an NP governed by the local County, state, or nation they live in.
Training – This is an extremely important step to make the best of nurse practitioner career opportunities. Every nurse practitioner must have training for the preparation of practice in special areas such as; midwifery, pediatrics, family practice, etc.
Specialties in the field of a nurse practitioner include – Emergency, Geriatric, occupational health, oncology, pediatric critical care, palliative care, psychiatric care, women’s health, adult health care, acute care pediatric, advanced certified hospice and palliative care, family care, adult psychiatric, advanced oncology, adult cardiovascular care, adult critical care, and the list of the specialization goes on.
Career Skills – The profession also requires other skills beyond just clinical knowledge. Nurse practitioners must possess good communication skills, as they have to work with different types of patients and have to determine the best plan of health care for each plan. They also have to communicate with the patients about their health conditions and help the patients have a positive attitude towards their health. At times, NPs also assist patients in taking decisions by counseling them.
Additionally, a nurse practitioner should possess skills of adaptability, maturity, concern for patients, ability to remain calm in case of emergency, inspire confidence in patients, and good judgmental skills.
Salary is one of the most satisfying aspects of a nurse practitioner career. Additionally, if a practitioner is able to practice independently to provide comprehensive and long-term patient care, it brings more self-satisfaction. It is priceless to learn that the ‘real difference’ is made for the betterment of people.
Nurse Practitioner Program Checklist
Nurse practitioners are RNs – registered nurses who are trained through higher qualification and practical clinical exposure to offer a range of preventive care and acute health care for patients. NPs also specialize in various medical areas such as pediatric, oncology, family health care, psychiatric nursing, etc. We are here to discuss a comprehensive nurse practitioner program checklist and other requirements to become a nurse practitioner.
What is Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners, also termed as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), are registered nurses with additional qualifications and training. They have almost all exposure as physicians and can even prescribe medicines. In addition to this, they have several other responsibilities and capabilities to assist the patients. An NP typically has to have a master’s degree in nursing and hold a state license and as an option, can choose to specialize in a specific medical field.
There are various fields of medicine in which an NP chooses to practice. The nurse practitioner program checklist includes specialties in areas such as; pediatric, adult NPs, acute care NPs, occupational health care, nurse midwives, certified nurse anesthetists, family care, geriatric NPs, etc.
History of the Nurse Practitioner Program
Before we take a look at the nurse practitioner program checklist, let us understand the history of this program briefly. It was a physician and professor of Colorado University, who developed the first nurse practitioner program in the year 1965. Later, over nine years around 65 programs were created in pediatrics with other programs starting all over.
Significance of a Nurse Practitioner
The demand for nurse practitioners is constantly expanding throughout the world. The role of an NP has been evolving rapidly in response to the changing policies of health that seek to meet the needs of aging people, increasing the complexity of diseases, under-served populations of all countries. Various countries have reacted to the challenges of health care by presenting nurse practitioners for the direct care of patients.
There are certain programs offered for candidates who have acquired a Bachelor’s degree but those who have not become RNs. These programs are lengthier than the usual master’s program. However, these may not be valid in all places.
The Nurse practitioner Program Checklist In Detail
The basic program required to become a nurse is a bachelor’s degree. Most of the countries and states also demand a license even to enter a higher degree program. The next in the nurse practitioner program checklist is the master’s degree program. Most of the NPs choose to specialize in a specific field of medicine for a better future.
Requirement of License
The next in the nurse practitioner program checklist is the license and this is the main requirement to start practicing. Every state and country sets its own set of rules and requirements for the license of a NP. Normally, NPs must acquire a higher degree such as a doctorate or master’s degree in nursing along with a valid license as a registered nurse. Additionally, some of the countries and states demand clinical exposure and training as a part of the education or on completion of the education. This training brings in practical exposure to NPs and helps them deal with the various situations related to patients.
Skills Required by NPs
Though acquiring a degree and license along with the training might qualify a person to start practicing as an NP, there are certain skills that are very essential to be the best NP. Communication skill is a very basic necessity for an NP. This is because; an NP not only administers medicine and takes care of the patient, but also educates the patients on their positive health and at times to make crucial decisions. They also communicate with the physicians and RNs they work with regarding the condition and diagnosis of the patients. All these require appropriate communication to serve the very purpose of being an NP.
High maturity, adaptability, concern for patients, composure, ability to inspire patients, a good judgment, are few other requirements that are significant for an NP.
What are the Specialties of Nurse Practitioner Programs?
An NP may choose to work as a generalist or within any specialty. There are certain professional certification exams one has to clear on the chosen field such as; pediatrics, women’s health, mental health, adult care, occupational care, gerontology, midwife, care for pregnancy and child care, etc.
It is the basic philosophy of an NP to offer care individually to patients to help them focus on a healthy lifestyle and precautionary measures. They spend maximum time with patients and offer them the required counseling and education and at times relate even with their family members to create awareness.
Other Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Not everybody can become a nurse practitioner though they might have done all the required programs. It demands certain qualities and physical aspects too. NPs must possess good stamina to work with patients in chronic conditions. At times they are required to work with dying, very serious, or very sick people at emergency care. They have a high risk of taking the illness from patients. Also, strong emotional stability is required to deal with such situations.
Nurse practitioners must also possess the willingness to assist the patients, oral and reading comprehension, good decision-making, and perceptiveness along with critical thinking. A thorough understanding of the basics of chemistry, medicine, biology, and dentistry is essential.
With the competence of technology and equipment, an NP is required to have good computer knowledge and skills too.
Advantages of Being an NP
This career is quite rewarding. NPs are given more freedom than the RNs, and at times are given powers to act as physicians. Despite the various responsibilities, they are also given the right to prescribe medicine and act as the main side person to all special doctors. Depending on the field of specialty, they are also highly paid and are much in demand all around the globe.
Role of an NP
Finally, when we look at the role, an NP is almost an all-role player. Right from acquiring the history of a patient, the roles go to; conducting the physical examination; diagnose, manage, treat, and evaluate acute and chronic conditions; provide annual health maintenance; child care; pregnancy, delivery, and child-care; educating patients; counseling; perform, order, and interpret EKGs, lab tests, and x-rays; etc.
Having possessed all the required education and training, a nurse practitioner has to have the total passion for the profession to get the utmost satisfaction from serving the needy.