This is a long post...
First, I want to clarify exactly what I am studying to become.
The other day I overheard my mom talking to someone and she said I was studying to be a doctor. After her conversation ended I informed my mom that I was not in medical school but nurse practitioner school. Her response was, "They're practically the same and it's just easier to explain it that way." I then realized that my darling mother needed a little help understanding what exactly I was going to school for. I will not be a physician but rather a family nurse practitioner - two very different things, even though there are some over lapping responsibilities. Thus, here's the 4-1-1 on nurse practitioners borrowed from this site.
What is a nurse practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education (a minimum of a master's degree) and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. Nurse practitioners provide a broad range of health care services. They provide some of the same care provided by physicians and maintain close working relationships with physicians. An NP can serve as a patient's regular health care provider.
Nurse practitioners see patients of all ages. The core philosophy of the field is individualized care. Nurse practitioners focus on patients' conditions as well as the effects of illness on the lives of the patients and their families. NPs make prevention, wellness, and patient education priorities. This can mean fewer prescriptions and less expensive treatments. Informing patients about their health care and encouraging them to participate in decisions are central to the care provided by NPs. In addition to health care services, NPs conduct research and are often active in patient advocacy activities.
Because the profession is state regulated, care provided by NPs varies. A nurse practitioner's duties include the following:
- Collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed, including providing referrals
- Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors, self-care skills, and treatment options
- Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses, infections, and injuries
- Diagnosing, treating, and monitoring chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure)
- Obtaining medical histories and conducting physical examinations
- Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays, EKGs)
- Prescribing medications
- Prescribing physical therapy and other rehabilitation treatments
- Providing prenatal care and family planning services
- Providing well-child care, including screening and immunizations
- Providing health maintenance care for adults, including annual physicals
Nurse practitioners provide high-quality, cost-effective individualized care that is comparable to the health care provided by physicians, and NP services are often covered by insurance providers. NPs practice in all states. The institutions in which they work include the following:
- Community clinics and health centers
- Health departments
- Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
- Home health care agencies
- Hospitals and hospital clinics
- Hospice centers
- Nurse practitioner offices
- Nursing homes
- Nursing schools
- Physician offices
- Private offices
- Public health departments
- School/college clinics
- Veterans Administration facilities
- Walk-in clinics
Most NPs specialize in a particular field of medical care, and there are as many types of NPs as there are medical specialties.
My studies are intense, as you might expect with all that will be asked of me upon completion. As I mentioned in a previous posting, last week I had four papers due. This week I've been busy with group projects. Mind you, all my classes thus far have been online so for group projects we meet online and literally "chat" via modern technology. Eventually I will be meeting in the classroom and performing hands on learning. You cannot teach giving a physical exam without some applied learning. And then later on I will move to the clinic setting and actually start seeing patients. Since I've already been a nurse for a while it's not too scary to imagine applying what I've learned. I'm actually pretty excited to be able to make my own diagnoses and prescribe my own meds or do my own suturing (stitches).
This evening, the last project I completed was something a little different. It was an assignment for my nursing theory class. Now theory can be really boring if you let it. Luckily, our professor is letting us have a little fun. She asked us to pick a specific patient population and graphically depict how nursing affects the various "assumptions" of that population. So not to go too theory on you, I'll try to explain what I did.
The population I picked was that of asthma patients. The assumptions that go along with that are: nursing, patient education, support system, compliance, and the asthma patient. Rather than draw circles that interconnect or lines pointing to each other, I instead depicted my population and assumptions this way (you might want to click on the photo to make it bigger, although, do NOT comment on my artistic ability):
Yes, this is me having fun with my assignment. We'll see what Dr. R has to say but I thought it was cleaver!
And just for fun, this is my "helper" who decided assisting Mom with her reading today was far more fun than taking a nap:
Yes, that was the grin that melted my heart today. He was actually a pretty good kid, letting me finish the massive amount of reading I had to complete - amazingly good-natured considering he woke early and only napped for 45 minutes!
So that's the 4-1-1...are you still awake???
Have you ever been treated by a nurse practitioner? And if so, what was your experience like?