As you go through the job description of a nurse practitioner, you might ask yourself what the difference is between them and a physician. The only difference is perhaps that physicians possess a higher education level and subsequently a bigger salary. Controversially, nurse practitioners are now providing primary care to a lot of patients within the country.
It is important for nurse practitioners to be compassionate as they have to be in constant contact with distressed patients. The ability to clearly communicate and understand patients’ problems is also important. Since nurse practitioners are considered experienced healthcare professionals, they need to be able to educate patients and their families and at times hold educational classes for nursing students and registered nurses. They also act as the first point of contact for patient information and interventions.
Eligibility to work as a nurse practitioner requires an individual to have worked as a registered nurse for a certain period of time. Typically, they are required to handle patient assessments and create and implement plans for treatment according to each individual patient’s health needs. It is important for nurse practitioners to possess a master’s degree in nursing – some nurse practitioners also specialize in a specific area such as oncology, pediatrics, surgery or psychiatry, depending on their specific interest.
Some important duties of a nurse practitioner include:
• Interview patients to determine root causes of complaints and diseases
• Diagnose chronic and acute illnesses by performing examinations and ordering and interpreting test results
• Create and implement individualized care plans according to each individual patient’s health needs
• Perform patient health assessments and health maintenance activities including history and physicals and pap tests and immunizations
• Monitor ongoing therapy of patients with both chronic and acute health issues
• Diagnose and treat acute minor illnesses including respiratory illnesses, ear and throat problems and gastrointestinal issues
• Record and document patient information in electronic medical records systems
• Tweak implemented patient care plans to meet patients’ changing healthcare requirements
• Monitor patients to determine how well they are responding to prescribed treatments and make changes to ensure further efficacy
• Develop and maintain preventative health monitoring programs by working with other healthcare team members
• Prescribe age and condition-specific physical therapy and rehabilitation processes
• Write prescriptions and conduct short counseling sessions for patients
• Establish the need for both physical and emotional therapy and ensure that it is coordinated through proper channels
• Create, develop and implement educational programs for student nurses and LVNs and RNs