A nurse practitioner (NP) is a nurse who possesses a graduate degree and who works to improve the health outcomes of patients (Mannheim, 2012). The role of the nurse practitioner has evolved tremendously over the last decade. As the need for quality health care increases, the role of nurse practitioners expands every day. Nurse practitioners provide healthcare to people of all age groups ranging from toddlers to the elderly. They work in different settings including cardiology, oncology, nephrology, emergency, women’s health, family practice, and nursing homes. The expertise of NPs allows them to work without the supervision of doctors. Certification for NP occurs under various specialty areas such as adult nursing, adult care, geriatrics, and women’s health care.
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According to Anangster-Gormely, Martin -Misener, & Burge (2013), a nurse practitioner undergoes additional training that goes beyond the scope of the traditional nursing practice. Nurse practitioners facilitate patients’ access to health care, improve health outcomes, and manage patients’ plans of care (Sangster-Gormley et. al, 2013). The training of nursing practitioners allows them to provide holistic care to patients and their families. They achieve that by involving the families of their patients in their treatment plans. In addition, they improve the health outcomes of patients by consulting with physicians whenever the condition of their patients deteriorates. Nurse practitioners play a vital role in primary care. As such, they promote wellness, educate patients and their families on various health issues, fulfill the health needs of communities, and manage chronic diseases as well as other illnesses (Sangster-Gormley et. al, 2013). Nurse practitioners provide educational materials to patients and their families on ways to prevent diseases and live healthy lifestyles that improve their health.
According to Naylor and Kurtzman (2010), a nurse practitioner’s role is predominantly confined to primary care under different settings such as geriatrics, gerontology, adult health. NPs deliver primary care in both private and public settings. They offer services in retail clinics and nurse-managed health centers (Naylor & Kurtzman, 2010). In adult health, they take care of the aging population, which is increasing rapidly. NPs also perform roles reserved for physicians such as diagnosis, treatment, management of diseases, drug prescriptions, patient examination, and surgery (Naylor & Kurtzman, 2010). The scope of nurse practitioners’ roles expands in proportion to the increase in the need for health care services.
According to Mannheim (2012), the roles of nurse practitioners have expanded in the last decade to include diagnosis and treatment of patients, prescriptions, patient education, and coordination of referrals (Mannheim, 2012). Their expertise allows them to work in different departments such as neonatology, pediatrics, school health, primary care, and family practice. Advanced surgical procedures such as bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture have also been included under the roles of nurse practitioners (Mannheim, 2012). The scope of practice with regard to the roles of nurse practitioners varies from state to state. In certain states, NPs work together with doctors while in other states, nurse practitioners work independently. For instance, in certain states, nurse practitioners are allowed to prescribe drugs while in other states, they are barred (Mannheim, 2012). Therefore, the roles of nurse practitioners depend on state laws.
In conclusion, the roles of nurse practitioners have expanded over the past five years especially in primary care. NPs roles include diagnosis and treatment of diseases, improvement of adult health, the performance of certain procedures, management of diseases, and education of patients. NPs work either independently or in collaboration with doctors. The roles of NPs largely depend on state laws.
Mannheim, J.K. (2012). Nurse Practitioner. Web.
Naylor, M., & Kurtzman, E.T. (2010). The Role of Nurse Practitioners in Reinventing Primary Care. Health Affairs, 29(5), 893-899.
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Sangster-Gormley, E., Martin-Misener, R., & Burge, F. (2013). A Case Study of Nurse Practitioner Role Implementation in Primary Care: What Happens when New Roles are Introduced? BMC Nursing, 12(1), 144-156.