What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) who has advanced education and clinical training in a health care specialty area. Nurse practitioners work with people of all ages and their families, providing information people need to make informed decisions about their health care and lifestyle choices.
Nurse Practitioners practice under the rules and regulations of the Nurse Practice Act of the state in which they work. Most nurse practitioners are also nationally certified in their specialty area. They are recognized as expert health care providers.
Nurse practitioners may be found in all 50 states. Research studies since 1965 have documented that Nurse practitioners provide:
• High quality care
• Cost-effective care
• A unique approach to health care
• Care that results in a high level of patient satisfaction
Nurse practitioners serve as the regular health care provider for children and adults during health and illness. In order to provide complete health care, Nurse Practitioners:
• Obtain medical histories and perform physical examinations
• Diagnose and treat acute health problems such as infections and injuries
• Diagnose, treat, and monitor chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
• Order, perform, and interpret diagnostic studies such as lab work and x-rays
• Prescribe medications and other treatments
• Provide prenatal care and family planning services
• Provide well-child care, including screening and immunizations
• Provide health maintenance care for adults, including annual physicals
• Promote positive health behaviors and self-care skills through education and counseling
• Collaborate with physicians and other health professionals as needed
Nurse Practitioners do more than direct patient care. Many nurse practitioners are also actively involved in education, research, and legislative activities to promote quality health care for all people in the United States.
What are the specialty areas of Nurse Practitioners?
Nurse Practitioners provide primary health care in a number of specialty areas, such as:
• Acute Care
• Family Practice
• Gerontologic/Elder Health
• Occupational Health
• Pediatric/Child Health
• Psychiatric/Mental Health
• School/College Health
• Women’s Health
Where do Nurse Practitioners Work?
In an effort to make health care available to as many people as possible. Nurse Practitioners work in both rural and urban settings, such as:
• Community Health Centers
• Public Health Departments
• Hospitals and Hospital Clinics
• School and College Student Health Clinics
• Business and Industry Employee Health Settings
• Physician Offices
• Nurse Practitioner Offices
• Health Maintenance Organizations
• Nursing Homes and Hospices
• Home Health Agencies
• The Armed Forces and Veteran’s Administration Facilities
• Schools of Nursing
Why Choose a Nurse Practitioner?
More and more people are choosing Nurse Practitioners for their regular health care provider because Nurse Practitioners are health professionals who:
• Provide individualized care, focusing not only on health problems, but also on the effects health problems have on people and their families.
• Explain the details of health problems, medications, and other topics to help people fully understand how to take care of themselves
• Ask about people’s worries and concerns about their health and their health care
• Emphasize wellness and self-care by giving people the information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices and health care decisions
• Charge competitive fees which are covered by health insurance programs
© American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. All rights reserved.
What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?
Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with a physician’s supervision. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings in rural and urban areas. Physician assistant practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research and administrative activities.
Obtaining medical histories and performing physical examinations,
Assisting the physician in developing and implementing patient management plans, recording progress notes in office-based and inpatient health care settings.
Performing and interpreting (at least to the point of recognizing deviations from the norm) common laboratory, radiologic, cardiographic, and other routine diagnostic procedures used to identify pathophysiologic processes.
Performing routine procedures such as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, managing simple conditions produced by infection or trauma, participating in the management of more complex illness and injury, and taking initiative in performing evaluation and therapeutic procedures in response to life-threatening situations.
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