7 Things You Might Not Know About Nurse Practitioners (NPs)


Many people do not know that there are many types of nurses, which is logical since they are all obligated to choose specialization so they can devote themself to particular causes. 

To be more precise, there are around 25 different types of nurses. The most common ones are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, ICU registered nurses, medical-surgical nurses, ER and OR nurses, PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) nurses, oncology nurses, pediatric nurses, labor and delivery nurses, and so on. 

Today I decided to talk about nurse practitioners and things you may not know about them.

1. What Makes NPs Different from Registered Nurses and Physicians?

Nurse practitioners begin their careers as registered nurses. They share many similar approaches to patient care, like registered nurses. The main difference is that they have undergone some additional training that allows them to perform procedures, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe medication that regular registered nurses can’t do.

The main difference between NPs and physicians is in additional education, of course, since physicians had even more additional training, so they are able to handle more complex patients.

2. Advanced Education

They are highly intelligent and expert clinicians.

They possess advanced degrees such as a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree. It is very hard to get acceptance into NPs schools since competition is tough, and they only let a small percentage of applicants be admitted. 

The first thing that students need to pass before applying to NP school is the National Council Licensure Examination. They also need to take extensive life science courses like microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, abnormal psychology, and pathophysiology. But that is not all during their school program; they undergo rigorous clinical education. Courses like high-tech patient simulations are a must.

Feeling It’s Hard To #StayHydrated?

As nurses, we know staying hydrated plays a key role in our overall health and well-being. “Water is essential for key bodily functions. 

When you’re dehydrated, it’s like having a car with no gas. If you don’t have water, you’re not going to go anywhere!” says Nurse Alice Benjamin, a Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist with twenty years of nursing experience.

Finding ways to stay hydrated at work is one of the most important things you can do for yourself while on the job.

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3. Specialization

If you think that was all about their troubles when trying to get admitted to the NPs school, you were wrong.

They must choose a medical specialty before entering NP school. That is logical since their education focuses on their chosen clinical area. Specialties may include areas like neonatal health, family health, women’s health, adult health, acute care, gerontology, pediatrics, or psychiatry.

Nurse practitioners can also pursue subspecialty. This requires additional education and many clinical hours. The subspecialties include emergency, occupational health, orthopedics, sports medicine, oncology, immunology, cardiology, pulmonology, dermatology, emergency, endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology, and urology.

So there is no need to be surprised when you find out that Nps can meet almost 80% of primary healthcare needs all on their own.

4. Diagnose and Treating Medical Conditions

You can be sure you are safe in the hands of your NPs since it can diagnose and treat medical conditions within the area of their expertise. This includes both acute and chronic illnesses. Diagnostic skills are very complex and they require intense education and practice; however, many NPs do not treat their patients without the oversight of the physician.

NPs are able to prescribe medication, order and interpret laboratory as well as diagnostic tests, and provide patient counseling. For example, a psychiatric NPs will diagnose and treat conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance withdrawal. A pediatric NPs will diagnose and treat conditions such as ear infections, asthma, and cystic fibrosis.

5. Prescribe Medication

Like I just said, they can prescribe medications as well as controlled substances such as oxycodone, Adderall, and Xanax since they can treat patients that have undergone substance withdrawal. 

There are some interesting studies that found that teams led by NPs had lower medical costs and less drug exploitation.

6. Order and Interpret Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests

You should not be surprised if your NPs do this part instead of your physician since they are trained to do so. They can order laboratory tests, including vitamin assays, complete blood count, serum iron tests, sexually transmitted disease tests, as well as liver, kidney, and thyroid function tests. If you need diagnostic tests like x-rays, ultrasounds, ECGs, EEGs, MRIs, and CT scans, you can count on your NPs to refer you to them. They will use these tests to help diagnose and guide the treatment of your medical condition.

7. NPs Field of Practice Varies by the State

Like we already stated, nurse practitioner degree programs provide advanced nursing education. The laws of each state individually determine how freely NPs can practice their education with patients. In some states, NPs require collaborative agreement with supervising physicians when working with the patient; in this case, they usually have restrictions on their practice. On the other hand, an increasing number of states allow them to practice independently.

Conclusion 

Did you know that an estimated 20000 new NPs complete their education each year? On their way to becoming NPs, students undergo 500 didactic hours as well as 700 clinical hours. They are the most technologically savvy healthcare professionals since they are trained on varieties of EMR systems. 

New generations of NPs are being groomed to handle tasks that were usually attributed to physicians, so it seems like the future of medicine lies in the hands of NPs more than ever.