When we need to visit a hospital, we often think that a doctor or a physician on duty will be the one who treats us for whatever health concerns we have. Nowadays, however, there are other healthcare professionals who are qualified enough to give us the care we need. Nurse practitioners are one such group of healthcare professionals that play an instrumental role in delivering quality healthcare.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses with a master’s degree. Equipped with advanced education and clinical experience, they can provide primary, acute, and specialty health care services.
They work in close collaboration with physicians and other healthcare professionals in administering treatments to patients. Nurses in healthcare serve a mission to improve patient care and create better health systems, which means that they need to be accessible to the patients within their communities.
Here are some reasons why you should be seeing a nurse practitioner:
1. NPs are excellent listeners
Nurse practitioners spend years of their nursing school life honing active listening skills in combination with practicing compassion and empathy. Their clinical experience instills in them the value of listening to the patients’ concerns.
When seeking medical treatment, it’s important that you feel comfortable expressing the concerns or pains associated with your illness to the medical staff. Being trained professionals, nurse practitioners suspend judgement when treating patients and ensure that they get the best treatment possible for their condition.
This phenomenon of patient-centric care is changing how medical treatments are administered. Nursing education focuses a great deal on the importance of these patient-centric skills. The trust put by the patients in their nurses is one of the many benefits of being a nurse, one that places them, unlike the rest of the medical staff, front and center in the patient’s minds when receiving care.
2. NPs are highly qualified
Nurse practitioners are highly qualified, licensed professionals who can diagnose and treat illnesses, injuries, and other health conditions. They often provide more than primary care services.
To become a nurse practitioner, you have to receive your bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program or institution; go on to get an NP-focused graduate master’s or doctoral nursing degree; and then, finally, pass the national NP board certification exam. Nursing Students have to work hard to become nurses.
There are registered nurses with additional education in specialty areas. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reports that there are more than 325,000 nurse practitioners across the country providing all age groups of patients with care.
3. NPs provide general and specialized care
Nurse practitioners receive extensive training in diagnosing and treating common medical conditions, like high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, and depression. They are even authorized, in some cases, to prescribe medications for those common medical conditions.
Most NPs focus on specialized care for certain populations, such as pediatrics or geriatrics. For example, if you need specialized care for an elderly parent who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, an NP with experience treating seniors would be able to provide the service more effectively than a physician who hasn’t had much experience with that type of patient population.
There are many popular specialties nurse practitioners can choose from:
- Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)
Specialties like cardiology, dermatology, oncology, orthopedic, etc., have NPs that go through extensive training to specialize in those fields.
4. NPs establish a relationship of trust with their patients
NPs facilitate continuity of care in patients by following up with them regularly throughout the treatment period. Regularly seeing the same nurse and physician administering care results in establishing rapport and trust.
NPs spend more time with the patients than the doctors do, which means that they often are more closely familiar with the patients’ histories. Close monitoring by a single care provider is especially essential when providing care to children or the elderly.
Research shows that establishing rapport with the patients results in better healthcare outcomes. Patients feel that nurses are invested in their well-being and, thus, respond better to treatment and are more consistent in their follow-ups.
5. NPs’ consultations are cost-effective
Nurse practitioners charge lower fees than physicians for almost the same services. The doctors have to cover their overhead costs and other expenses, like malpractice insurance in case of a negligence claim, when billing their patients. If you’re on a budget and in need of medical attention, you should consider seeing a nurse practitioner instead of paying exorbitant amounts for an appointment with the doctor.
6. NPs are accessible
Most people don’t want to spend hours waiting in line at the hospital emergency or the doctor’s clinic for getting treated for the common cold or flu, which is nothing to worry about but might get worrisome if not treated immediately.
Nurse practitioners, on the other hand, can provide excellent healthcare services with minimum wait times. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, you can get treatment from a nurse practitioner on duty.
7. NPs are team players
A healthcare team is supposed to provide you with a safe environment where you can freely express or receive attention when you need it. Nurse practitioners form a part of the whole healthcare professional staff at the hospital. The efforts of each individual member of the staff goes into facilitating the best care for you, and that’s especially important when you’re dealing with a serious or chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment.
8. NPs have a holistic approach to treatment
Nurse practitioners focus on holistic approaches when treating patients, which simply means that, instead of taking care of the symptoms, the focus is on providing treatments that benefit the patient’s body on the whole.
In providing medical care, NPs will take into account everything from your medical history to any social issues that might be affecting your health (like stress or depression).
Because they spend more time with the patients, they’re not only able to provide comprehensive care in terms of diagnosis and administering of treatments, but they also keep a strict health record of the patients’ health progress and give lifestyle counseling.
They can improve patient outcomes by offering preventive care and other services that the doctors may not be providing their patients.
The role of nurse practitioners continuously grows as their educational requirements expand, specialize, and advance. In no way whatsoever should you construe that NPs are any sort of alternative to the specialized and professional care provided by the doctors. But, in certain cases where primary care, preventive care, follow-ups, and patient-centricity is paramount, it is always the NPs that take up the doctor’s mantle.