Happy National Nurse Practitioner Week! November 13-19, 2022
It’s National Nurse Practitioner Week. Nurse Practitioners are a vital resource to the healthcare community, with over 355,000 currently licensed to practice in the US.
A Nurse Practitioner is a nurse with a master’s degree and who completed a graduate-level education at a university. All NP’s are registered nurses who the Board of Registered Nursing licenses in the state where they may be practicing. NPs have an expanded scope of practice over the traditional registered nurse role and may vary from state to state.
NP’s bring clinical expertise, leadership, and robust solutions to the challenges experienced in the healthcare universe. One of the main focuses of the NP profession is to reduce healthcare disparities with patient-centered care at the heart of the practice.
Bridging the Gap
The COVID pandemic revealed many cracks in an already fragile healthcare system. The disease burden was high, while medical equipment, hospital beds, and personal protective equipment resources were low. A lack of fairness regarding healthcare accessibility was found to exist primarily in the lower socioeconomic populations and rural areas. Once these patients were diagnosed with COVID, morbidity, and mortality rates were higher due to a lack of accessable healthcare.
Several policy changes emerged during the COVID pandemic. This catapulted the advanced practice role of the NP forward into more extraordinary evolution. Legislative changes were made allowing NPs to work to the full extent of their training and licensure.
Full Practice Authority
Nurses should practice full extent of their education and training. A recent study found that the main barriers in the practice guidelines for NP’s are in states with limited practice authority, further restricting patient’s access to healthcare.
Full Practice Authority (FPA) authorizes nurse practitioners to evaluate patients, diagnose, interpret, order diagnostic labs, and initiate and manage treatment. Prescribing medication is also included in the FPA under the board of nursing in each state. (For a complete list of FPA States, please click here)
Quality and Cost-Effective Healthcare
NP’s have a unique approach when it comes to healthcare. Care focuses on the well-being of the whole person, with particular attention on disease prevention, health promotion, and health education.
Various studies show NPs provide a 29 % reduced cost to patients compared to physicians. The same survey found that NPs are more inclined to refer and recommend patients for health education, counseling services, and smoking cessation counseling as compared with patients seen by physicians.
Specialties of Practice with Primary Certification
According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, specialties with primary certifications can be found in:
- Family Practice
- Adult Medicine
- Adult-Gerontology- Primary Care
- Geriatric disorder Adult Gerontology-Primary Care
- Psychiatric-Mental Health
- Women’s Health
- Pediatric Acute Care.
A Valid Asset in Long-Term Care Facilities
Long-term care facilities were hit hard during the COVID pandemic. A recent study revealed that many Medical Directors in LTC facilities worked virtually to reduce the risk of transmission while NP’s saw their patients in person. The study also found that NP’s were pivotal in containing the spread of COVID in LTC facilities, helping out where there was a need, extending support to patients and families, and acting as liaisons in fragmented areas.
High Demand for Psychiatric NP’s
Mental and behavioral health disorders are on the rise. On average, 70% of primary care patient visits are for mental health issues. Approximately 13-20 % of children in the United States are diagnosed with emotional, behavioral, or mental health disorders daily.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are in high demand, especially in lower socioeconomic areas and Federally Qualified Clinics. Psychiatric NP’s have advanced degrees in psychiatric mental health nursing and apply the nursing process to patients and families with behavioral health and psychiatric disorders. Many studies show that integrating behavioral health services like substance abuse and mental health services has drastically decreased anxiety and depression.
Netflix Promoting NPs
The Netflix show ‘Virgin River,’ now in its 4th season, is the perfect example of NP’s servicing rural areas of the United States. The protagonist is a nurse practitioner searching for a fresh start who moves from Los Angeles to a rural part of California to practice as an NP.
The Outlander series, also on Netflix, features a nurse as the main protagonist who time travels back 200 years. At one point, she also becomes a doctor. Perhaps you can say she was a modern-day nurse practitioner.
The Future of Healthcare Sustainability
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the role of the Nurse Practitioner will grow by 40% by 2031. NPs are not only healthcare providers; they are mentors, educators, researchers, and administrators. They possess a dynamic knowledge base that spans from academia to clinical practice.
According to The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, over 1.6 billion visits are made to NP’s every year. Post-visit, patients report an extremely high level of satisfaction with their care.
NPs are in a unique space to help mold healthcare policy and take positions as leaders to help guide elected political officials in the event of future pandemics. The ICAN (which stands for improving care and access to nurses ) act has been introduced into legislation which will allow for greater patient access to nurses.
Psychiatric NPs are in high demand and can teach FQHCs and community clinics to integrate behavioral health services into primary care.
Further legislation of Full Practice Authority needs to occur in all 50 states with nationwide approval of the APRN Compact Legislation. More Nurse Practitioners are valuable in underprivileged and rural areas of the United States where healthcare access is difficult.
Travel and Explore the United States: Give Locum Tenens a Shot
You may not be able to time travel on a locum tenens assignment, but you can explore new and rural places across the United States. If you’re looking to make a temporary or permanent change in your healthcare career, MedCare Staffing offers a variety of locations and assignments. Click here for more information.