There is a lot of confusion out there about what nurse practitioners do. Anyone who has ever been cared for by one will recognize that they fulfill many functions that have historically been associated with family medicine or primary care doctors.
Becoming an NP
So you want to become a nurse practitioner. It’s important to note that it takes a lot of work to become a nurse practitioner. From undergrad to the completion of the program it can take up to eight years to get certified. Add to the fact that many people who go in for it are already working as nurses, and it becomes even more difficult to manage.
Nevertheless, the journey is worth it. Not only do NPs earn significantly more than RNs but they also enjoy much more standard hours, and even have the option to open their own practice.
If you are interested in this career path, consider looking into FNP online programs. These are flexible options for people who want to get a great a family nurse practitioner education while still working in their current careers.
In this article, we take a close look at the daily routine of a family nurse practitioner to help you understand the job, and possibly even decide if it is right for you.
It’s impossible to describe the day-to-day of a nurse practitioner because there are too many different varieties of responsibilities to account for. Some NPs travel, in much the same way as nurses, to hospitals in high-need areas. This might include communities with large populations that are being underserved, or even rural communities that have a very limited healthcare infrastructure.
They might be at a hospital where they work on a specific floor and treat patients. They might even have their own health practice, operating in much the same capacity as a family medicine doctor.
What the NP can do may depend somewhat on where they find themselves in the world. Later on, we will discuss how local laws can impact what sort of responsibilities an NP is allowed to carry out.
However, one thing is clear: there are many rewarding ways for an NP to spend their working day.
NPs see patients in much the same way that family doctors do. When patients arrive, their vitals are typically taken, either by an RN, or a tech. They then go into the screening room, where the NP will meet them and perform the same sorts of examinations that doctors were previously responsible for.
This could include listening to their heart, their lungs, their pulse, etc. From these readings, NPs are then able to make lifestyle recommendations and prescribe treatments to help their patients maximize their overall health.
Unlike registered nurses, practitioners can prescribe medication to their patients. While this is one of the biggest distinguishing factors between the practitioner and the regular nurse, it is also what sets NPs apart from family medicine doctors.
It’s because the rules can get complicated. NPs can prescribe medicine, but local laws impact how they can do it and what they can prescribe. In some states, NPs need to be directly supervised by a family doctor before a prescription can be written.
But, while some states make the prescription filling process a little bit convoluted, this ability remains one of NPs most valuable distinctions, allowing them to act as a primary healthcare provider in most ordinary capacities.
NPs are also responsible for educating their patients about taking care of their own health. This might come in the form of diet and exercise recommendations. It could also mean making them aware that they are due for their flu vaccine, and so on.
While you certainly don’t have to be an NP to administer immunizations, it is an important and regular part of the job. Because NPs function largely as a primary healthcare provider, they are often tasked with fulfilling all of their patient’s most fundamental needs.
Not only does this include administering immunizations, but it might also mean advocating for them. In a social climate that is filled with vaccine hesitancy, NPs may often serve as advocates for medicine that can have a large impact on the overall health and wellness of their communities.
Nurse practitioners are legally qualified to diagnose patients in many states. This means that they are directly responsible for determining what is wrong with a patient and recommending the course of treatment that follows.
Potential nurse practitioners who are interested in diagnostics should look into their local laws. Some states require a second opinion from a doctor.
While nurse practitioners cannot perform surgeries independently, they are often an invaluable asset when it comes to assisting surgeons in the operating room. Not only are they a knowledgeable presence in the room, but they are also qualified to make minor invasive treatments.