The job of a nurse practitioner (NP) could be similar to that of a physician. Along with the clinical care, NPs also have the responsibilities of educating the patients on positive health and also work with various health care experts. We shall discuss about 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 on 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 qualification such as; a doctoral degree or a master’s degree; and training in a specific field of medicine. In other words, a 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 the 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 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 are 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 health industry, the 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 a NP includes 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 the mere knowledge along with the practical exposure in a hospital surrounding.
Personal Record – To become a prospective nurse practitioner, it is necessary to provide personal details, which include academic records, 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 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 a NP governed by the local County, state, or nation they live in.
Training – This is extremely important step to make the best of nurse practitioner career opportunities. Every nurse practitioner must have a training for preparation of practice in special areas such as; midwifery, pediatrics, family practice, etc.
Specialties in the field of 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 specialization goes on.
Career Skills – The profession also requires other skills beyond just the clinical knowledge. Nurse practitioners must possess good communication skills, as they have to work with different type 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.
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Salary is one of the most satisfying aspects of a nurse practitioner career. Additionally, if a practitioner is able to practice independently to provide a 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.