Any state organization for registered nurses is supposed to provide a set of standards encompassing all levels of nursing practice that can serve as a template for a professional activity for nurse practitioners, educators, and leaders. Some aspects of professional performance are common for nurse practitioners, educators, and leaders whereas others may differ (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, 2014).
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A nurse practitioner’s scope of practice includes (Masters, 2015):
- being responsible for patients’ histories and physical examinations;
- collecting required data;
- performing some kinds of diagnostics;
- administering drugs;
- providing unceasing patient care;
- ensuring monitoring;
- assisting in minor surgeries;
- communicating the importance of proper health behavior patterns to patients;
- rendering emergency aid;
- assisting in health care research.
A nurse educator is responsible for (Masters, 2015):
- fostering the environment that facilitates learning and improves students’ outcomes;
- integrating values necessary for students’ professional and personal development and socialization;
- implementing assessment and evaluation strategies and methods to effectively estimate students’ success both in class and in clinical settings;
- taking part in research, curriculum planning, and evaluate potential outcomes of the program;
- evaluating the effectiveness of the organization and acting as an initiator of change;
- providing unceasing quality improvement in education;
- engaging in scholarship;
- advocating the educational policy within the educational environment and beyond it;
- participating in research and result dissemination;
- promoting safety;
- bridging gaps between theory and practice;
- educating specialists in innovation.
As far as nurse leaders are concerned, their scope of practice includes (Masters, 2015):
- organizing patient care and conducting research;
- ensuring efficient knowledge transfer;
- managing outcomes;
- providing possibilities for professional development to the staff;
- ensuring the success of clinical decision making;
- providing guidelines for solving problems;
- monitoring evidence-based interventions;
- ensuring the provision of safety;
- introducing and fostering innovation.
All the enumerated specialists perform their functions in a variety of settings (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, 2014):
- care centers;
- private clinics;
- medical offices;
- homeless shelters;
- community centers;
- patient homes.
Analyzing the list of responsibilities of nurses, it is logical to conclude that the current goals of nursing have changed considerably over time. These changes result from the fact that now nurses receive more comprehensive training as well as from the fact that the need for medical professionals (no matter what gender) is growing. Present-day nurses perform a lot of functions that were historically reserved for physicians. Nurses’ competences allow stating that their role has expanded far beyond assistance in care provision and minor operations. Today, nurses’ goal is not only to help doctors but to provide innovative health care solutions, conduct research, ensure patient care and safety, and contribute to the professional development of new specialists (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, 2014).
According to researchers, patient care is the central concern of the field of nursing. It includes such dimensions as physiological, psychological, and social support, communication, safety provision, co-presence, sympathy, etc. The significance of patient care does not diminish the importance of education and research; however, it is the urge to help people that gave nursing its unifying focus (Masters, 2015).
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Our health care system may be subjected to considerable changes shortly, which may leave millions of Americans uninsured. Under these circumstances, it will be crucial for nurses to translate research into practice as the gaps existing between what is known to improve health care and what is done to improve it will become even wider. The nurses’ goal will be to narrow this gap to achieve a more evidence-based health care system (Masters, 2015).
LoBiondo-Wood, G., & Haber, J. (2014). Nursing research: Methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Masters, K. (2015). Role development in professional nursing practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.