What are Nurse Practitioners (NPs)?
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are nurses who have advanced education and skills. They diagnose and treat illnesses similar to a physician for primary care, and in many specialties such as women’s health, pediatrics, and geriatrics. They focus on prevention of disease, health promotion as well as diagnosing and treating illness. Since they are nurses first, they have a unique holistic and patient centered approach.
The first NP program started in 1965 at the University of Colorado, and NPs have been providing excellent care ever since. There are now hundreds of programs in Universities across the country, and all over the world. There are now over 125,000 practising NPs across the US, with 6,000 more graduating every year. Most NPs are educated at the master’s level, and some are now getting a doctorate (the DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice). They must pass a certification examination and maintain a license as registered nurse as well as nurse practitioner. Every state and the District of Columbia license NPs and regulate their practice. NPs must practice under the rules and scope of practice allowed in their state. NPs are recognized as expert healthcare providers, and consistently have high approval and satisfaction ratings from their patients.
NPs practice in many settings including clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care sites, private physician or NP practices, nursing homes, schools, colleges, and public health departments, to name a few. They are found in rural, suburban and urban areas. They are well-known for providing care in areas underserved by other healthcare providers. NPs provide a full range of services. They:
- Order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests such as lab work and x-rays
- Diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and injuries
- Prescribe medications and other treatments
- Manage patients’ overall care
- Spend time counseling patients
- Educate patients on healthy living strategies and disease prevention
Specialty areas include:
- Acute Care
- Adult Health
- Family Health
- Gerontology Health
- Neonatal Health
- Pediatric/Child Health
- Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Women’s Health
- Allergy & Immunology
- Hematology & Oncology
- Occupational Health
- Pulmonology & Respiratory
- Sports Medicine
Many people are now choosing NPs as their primary, or specialty healthcare provider, and are confident of receiving excellent care with positive outcomes.
Florida NPs don’t have much practice freedom, and it causes problems for their patients. Florida is one of the most restrictive states in the US, lagging behind in prescriptive rights, practice restrictions, MD supervision requirements, etc. Only Alabama is farther behind. Here is a little video FNPN put out to explain the situation. We are hoping that Senator Bennet’s bill to increase our prescriptive rights will finally pass this year, the 15th try!