The healthcare industry has changed drastically and quickly, and one profession has risen in importance along with these changes. Nurse practitioners fill the gaps left as the number of primary care physicians has decreased. These professionals offer patients individualized and holistic care. Nurse practitioners focus on preventative health care, although they can also diagnose illness, prescribe medicine, and treat chronic conditions. As healthcare continues to evolve, the importance of nurse practitioners will continue to grow.
A Brief Discussion About Nurse Practitioners
The career of nurse practitioners arose in the 1960s. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced training in diagnosing and treating illnesses. These health professionals are different from doctors because they focus on preventing sickness, promoting wellness, and providing medical and health information. Many nurse practitioners specialize in certain areas ranging from women’s health and midwifery to geriatric care to psychiatric and mental health issues.
Nurse practitioners provide a number of vital services, including:
- Providing preventative child care, including immunizations
- Performing physical examinations
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses
- Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
- Prescribing medications
- Prescribing rehabilitative therapies
- Providing patients with medical information
- Performing in-office procedures such as casting, suturing, cryotherapy, and skin biopsies
Nurse practitioners work in many different settings, including hospitals, clinics, private offices, health departments, school and college health clinics, and nursing homes. However, there are new job trends for nurse practitioners, who will continue to be in high demand for years to come.
A Growing Need for Primary Care
The need for primary care is predicted to continue growing in the coming years, and the demand is high for nurse practitioners working in family care. Physicians who work in family care need nurses on their staffs, and as the numbers of primary care physicians has dropped while the demand for primary care has grown, nurse practitioners are stepping in to fill that need.
Higher Demand for Staff in Outpatient Facilities
Hospitals today are expected to have high patient turnover rates. Therefore, patients are discharged as quickly as possible, even though they still need high levels of care. Outpatient care is in high demand, and nurse practitioners can fill these vital positions in various facilities, most often in offices but also in independent clinics.
Increased Need in Underserved and Rural Areas
Nurse practitioners, in particular, those specializing in community health or public health, are needed for medical facilities in rural and underserved areas. Three specific specializations in these areas need skilled nurse practitioners:
- Clinical nurse specialists
- Nurse anesthetists
- Nurse midwives
There is a shortage of primary care physicians in these areas, and nurse practitioners fill the gap to provide vital health care and medical services. With the growing need for nurse practitioners, many educational avenues have opened up for those interested in pursuing this career. For example, the University of Cincinatti has an online learning program. The trends for nurse practitioners and healthcare in 2015 indicate that this career field will continue to grow in the future.
A Bright Vision
As health care continues to change in this age of technology, there is a greater need than ever for caring, competent, and compassionate nurse practitioners. Patients are increasingly looking to these specialized medical professionals for care and education. The career field for nurse practitioners is opening wide, and the future looks bright as continued demand is expected in this vital job.