What Does A Nurse Practitioner Do?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are classified as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). As such they can work independently or coordinate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to give patients the best care possible. Nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists are also considered as APRNs.

Since they are considered as primary and specialty care providers, nurse practitioners can evaluate patients, order diagnostic tests and prescribe medications. They also discuss with patients and their families the best ways to manage their illness and the things they can observe to so they can incorporate health-promoting practices in their daily lives.

When nurse practitioners first see patients, they take their medical histories to ascertain their health status. Just like physicians, they conduct a thorough physical examination of their clients. If necessary, they will order laboratory exams like blood tests, urine tests and others as well as imaging tests to determine what a patient’s condition is. After interpreting the results and taking into consideration all the manifestations presented by the patient, nurse practitioners then employ their advanced clinical decision making skills to diagnose the medical issue.

Nurse practitioners then come up with a customized care plan for each patient geared towards helping them regain their health. The plan of care typically includes prescribing the appropriate medications and therapies and recommending lifestyle changes for the patient to observe. These can include making dietary changes by minimizing intake of greasy and highly-processed foods, starting an exercise regimen and quitting smoking, excessive alcohol intake and other unhealthy practices. If nurse practitioners determine that the patient needs to see another healthcare professional, they make referrals and help in the coordination of healthcare services.

Nurse practitioners don’t just diagnose and treat illnesses. They also promote preventive care among their clients by recommending screenings to spot major diseases while they are still in their early stages and are treatable. They also encourage clients to have immunizations so they can be protected from serious illnesses.

Nurse practitioners usually provide care for a particular group. They can work with newborns, children and adolescents, with adults or the elderly. They may also choose to work with patients suffering from mental and psychological issues. Some nurse practitioners opt to give care to women and give services that are specialized to them alone. For example, they provide contraceptive care, pregnancy testing and pregnancy health management. They also conduct screenings for diseases that are common among women, such as breast cancer screenings, HPV screenings and pap smears, among others.

With experience, nurse practitioners may advance to managerial or administrative positions. In these roles, they see to it that the day-to-day activities of the healthcare facility they are managing are proceeding smoothly. They supervise accounting and business tasks as well as in the hiring and training of new personnel. Nurse practitioners who have earned their doctoral degrees can also teach in the university and college settings and train future nurses. They may also head a research team and conduct their own studies on various healthcare topics that affect their profession and the clients they serve.

Career Spotlight: Nurse Practitioner

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