I didn’t do well with the main doctor, so how is a nurse practitioner going to do any better? I wondered. However, seeing that my options were limited, I decided to give the office’s nurse practitioner a chance. She turned out to offer a great deal of help, had a great deal of knowledge, and gave me a new outlook on nurse practitioners.
What Is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner is actually an RN who has a higher-level degree, such as a master’s degree. Nurse practitioners generally must have a minimum of a master’s degree and usually go on to specialize in specific areas of training. They work closely with physicians, so they are capable of diagnosing symptoms and helping patients directly.
According to the Women’s Health Channel, nurse practitioners make “prevention, wellness, and patient education” their main priorities. They can prescribe medication, and health insurance companies generally cover visits to nurse practitioners, who can serve as patients’ regular healthcare providers.
Main Duties of a Nurse Practitioner
According to the Women’s Health Channel, the main duties of a nurse practitioner include:
- Collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed, including providing referrals
- Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors, self-care skills, and treatment options
- Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses, infections, and injuries
- Diagnosing, treating, and monitoring chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure)
- Obtaining medical histories and conducting physical examinations
- Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays, EKGs)
- Prescribing medications
- Prescribing physical therapy and other rehabilitation treatments
- Providing prenatal care and family planning services
- Providing well-child care, including screening and immunizations
- Providing health maintenance care for adults, including annual physicals
Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work?
Nurse practitioners work in a variety of areas including clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes, just to name a few. Many
nurse practitioners work at women’s offices as well, such as women’s clinics and gynecology offices.
Licensing Requirements for Nurse Practitioners
A nurse practitioner needs to be an RN, and usually a nurse practitioner goes on to receive a master’s degree as it is typically a state requirement to do so.
After the necessary degrees are obtained, a training program that is approved by the state needs to be completed. There are various nurse practitioner programs available — check out www.allnursingschools.com/featured/nurse-practitioner for more information.