Nurse practitioners: fast becoming an invaluable resource within primary care
Over the last decade nursing roles have evolved as the healthcare needs of the UK population have changed, and the nurse practitioner is no exception. Today, these highly skilled nurses play an increasingly important part in our primary care. We answer 5 common questions:
- What exactly is a nurse practitioner (NP) and how do they differ from registered nurses (RNs)?
Nurse practitioners begin their career as registered nurses and as a result both roles share many of the same approaches to patient care. However, NPs undertake additional qualifications and training that enable them to diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication and perform procedures that are beyond the scope of RNs.
- So why does the nurse practitioner profession exist?
Our aging population, budget constraints within the NHS and changing consumer expectations have all put traditional nursing and physician roles under increased pressure. A nurse who is qualified to treat certain medical conditions without the direct supervision of a doctor – a concept developed in the US – presents an ideal solution in many primary care settings.
- What can an NP do?
Within a GP surgery, an NP can meet around 75% of the primary healthcare needs of the average patient. In fact, many believe that developing and employing more NPs in primary care would directly address the shortage of GPs. In more specialised settings, NPs work collaboratively with other healthcare team members to provide comprehensive care for their patients. For many nurses, becoming an NP provides a tremendous opportunity to improve health care provision while developing professionally.
- What can an NP not do?
The needs of complex patients may be beyond the scope of a nurse practitioner. In these cases, the NP would refer his or her patient to a doctor or specialist.
- What’s the job market like for NPs?
Exceptionally good! With increasing demand for nurses and doctors, there’s been a tremendous growth in the number of NP positions. Not only are there jobs in primary care, but there’s an increasing number of NP positions in areas such as long term care, women’s health, pediatrics, emergency and neonatal care.
Here at Pulse we have roles available for nurse practitioners, emergency nurse practitioners (ENPs) and advanced nurse practitioners (ANP). Please contact us if you’d like to find out more.