What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners (NP), also called Advanced Practice Nurses (ANP) are registered nurses (RN) with additional medical education and clinical training beyond a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). They may practice independently or in association with other doctors or healthcare professionals depending on the laws of the state where they practice. Nurse practitioners work in various healthcare settings including health care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, doctor’s offices and patient homes.
The roles and responsibilities of a nurse practitioner include:
- Collecting patient’s medical history and performing physical examination
- Order laboratory tests
- Prescribe medications
- Disease management (diagnosis and treatment)
- Sharing medical knowledge with patients
- Providing information on prevention of diseases and healthy life style
- Performing certain biopsies and lumbar puncture (diagnostic procedure to collect fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) procedures
- Collaborating with the patients and their families to plan treatment
Nurse practitioners must be authorized by law to perform the above mentioned activities. They are licensed by the laws of the state where they practice and are certified through national organizations, with consistent professional practice standards encompassing all states.
Nurse practitioners can also act as consultants, managers or researchers and participate in regional and national policy development.
Nurse practitioners enhance the health care team as they assist patients in making the right decisions related to their health, help to improve access to primary health care, and also increase patient’s trust in healthcare.