Nations work hard to ensure the lives of their citizens are protected and promoted. Some diseases cannot be cured easily while others are associated with old age; therefore, medical practitioners must work hard to ensure they offer proper care to victims of these conditions (Chang 2008). This discussion examines the impacts of chronic illnesses and how evidence-based practices and advanced practice nurses can alleviate this problem.
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A chronic illness is a condition that affects people for a very long time and can be controlled, but not cured (Strasheim 2012). Evidence-based practice is an informed way of managing diseases and ensuring that all medical interventions are guided by proper use of skills, knowledge, and policies that regulate the work of nurses. Advanced Nurses are medical specialists that use comprehensive skills, knowledge, and experience to treat and manage diseases.
Impacts of Chronic Diseases on Health Care
America’s health care system faces a lot of challenges because of the high number of chronic diseases that affect its population (Chang 2008). Most of the population is aging, and this means that the health care system is supposed to prepare to manage patients suffering from chronic illnesses. Therefore, the government must allocate adequate funds to the Department of Health to ensure it finances the needs of these patients. The cost of treating patients suffering from chronic illnesses is very high, and experts estimate it to be about $6,032. This statistic shows that the cost of treating chronic illnesses is five times higher than that of other normal diseases. More than 45% of the American population suffers from chronic illnesses.
Secondly, most Americans suffer from chronic illnesses, and this means that the number of patients seeking medical interventions in this category is very high (Chang 2008). In addition, there is a need for health care facilities to have enough nurses to attend to the needs of these patients. Reports from various medical research institutes like the Institute of Nursing show that there has been a decrease in the number of nurses due to the following reasons. First, the number of nurses retiring or exiting from this profession to seek employment elsewhere is high compared to that of those joining it (Strasheim 2012). Secondly, there is a low registration turnover in nursing institutions because students prefer other careers to nurse. Therefore, there are fewer nurses compared to the number of patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
Thirdly, patients suffering from chronic illnesses require specialized care. Nurses attending to these patients must have the experience, knowledge, and skills required to manage their conditions (Trescott 2011). However, the number of advanced practice nurses is very low compared to the demands of managing chronic illnesses. In addition, the nursing accreditation body has established strict requirements that make it difficult for nurse students to qualify and start practicing. Therefore, the number of those graduating and getting practicing licenses is very low. There are very few experienced nurses to help patients suffering from chronic illnesses to manage their conditions.
Moreover, the cost of managing chronic diseases is very high, and most nurses are unable to help patients. Most elderly people do not have access to medical insurance covers while others have limited benefits that cannot help them to access high-quality health care services (Chang 2008). The American health care system is facing serious challenges because most people do not know the benefits of medical insurance covers. In addition, the government has not paid adequate attention to the regulations and benefits of health insurance companies to ensure its citizens get reasonable compensation.
Lastly, there is stiff competition and high demand for health care services between patients suffering from chronic illnesses and those that have normal diseases. America is yet to establish policies that will ensure there are specialized health care facilities that attend to the needs of patients suffering from chronic illnesses (Fennell 2013). In addition, there are very few medical training colleges that offer courses on managing chronic illnesses. Therefore, the few learning institutions and medical facilities are unable to offer high-quality services to all patients.
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The Importance of Evidence-Based Practice
Patients suffering from chronic illnesses need special care, and this means that nurses must have the relevant knowledge required to manage their conditions (Strasheim 2012). Evidence-based practice will help nurses to understand various issues affecting the lives of patients suffering from chronic illnesses. In addition, it will help them to understand the presentations and effects of these diseases and this information will enable them to know what to do in different situations (Trescott 2011). Nurses should know what causes chronic illnesses to enable them to understand and offer better services to patients. In addition, evidence-based practices will help health care facilities to reduce hospitalization costs and enable patients to understand how to manage their conditions without visiting medical facilities on a regular basis.
Secondly, this practice ensures nurses use appropriate approaches to manage patients suffering from chronic illnesses. It is necessary to explain that most health care facilities experience a lot of challenges when managing these patients because they use outdated practices (Fennell 2013). Evidence-based practices will ensure these nurses use modern approaches that are cheaper, faster and reliable in managing chronic illnesses. The cost and time of managing chronic illnesses will reduce significantly if nurses use evidence-based practices to manage their patients.
Lastly, this practice promotes coordination among various health care stakeholders to ensure chronic illnesses are managed properly. These patients need help from their family members and the society to ensure they manage their conditions properly. Therefore, evidence-based practice enables nurses to work with patients and their communities to manage their conditions.
Role of Advanced Practice Nurses
An advanced practice nurse is a medical practitioner that provides primary care to patients. They play important roles in ensuring that patients take good care of themselves and follow all the prescribed measures to manage their conditions. Patients suffering from chronic illnesses need special care, close follow-ups and regular visits to medical facilities for examination (Chang 2008). These nurses provide preventive care to patients suffering from chronic illnesses to ensure they do not develop opportunistic infections. This measure ensures patients do not expose themselves to conditions that may endanger their lives. Secondly, they are in the center of the treatment of chronic infections; therefore, they use advanced clinical skills, reasoning and therapeutic interventions to ensure chronic illnesses have minimum health risks on patients. These nurses have a high level of independence and clinical expertise that help them to manage chronic illnesses. Lastly, they integrate various aspects of disease management (education, research, consultation and leadership) into their clinical roles to improve the lives of patients suffering from chronic illnesses (Strasheim 2012).
Chronic illnesses have impacted negatively on the economy and development of the United States. Most people in America suffer from one or more chronic illnesses, and the high number of its aging population increases the cost and needs of managing these conditions. Evidence-based practice and advanced practice nurses will improve the health of patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
Chang, E. (2008). Chronic Illness and Disability: Principles for Nursing Practice. London: Churchill Livingstone.
Fennell, P. (2013). Managing Chronic Illness Using the Four-Phase Treatment Approach: A Mental Health Professional’s Guide to Helping Chronically Ill People. New York: Wiley.
Strasheim, C. (2012). Beyond Lyme Disease: Healing the Underlying Causes of Chronic Illness in People with Borreliosis and Co-Infections. California: BioMed Publishing Group.
Trescott, M. (2011). The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: An Allergen-Free Approach to Managing Chronic Illness. New York: McGraw Hill.