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Nurse practitioners are licensed, independent practitioners who practice autonomously and in coordination with health care professionals and other individuals. They provide primary and/or specialty nursing and medical care in ambulatory, acute, and long-term care settings. NPs are registered nurses with specialized, advanced education and clinical practice competency to provide health care for diverse populations in a variety of primary care, acute, and long-term care settings. Master’s, post-master’s or doctoral preparation and national board certification is required for entry-level practice (AANP, 2006).
The nurse practitioner role is consistent with the APRN consensus model practicing in the population foci of family, pediatrics, women’s health, adult-geriatrics, neonatal, and psychiatric mental health. The scope of practice is not setting specific but rather based on the needs of the patient (APRN Consensus Model, 2008). Education, certification, and licensure of an individual must be congruent in terms of role and population foci. APRNs may specialize but they cannot be licensed solely within a specialty area. In addition, specialties can provide depth in one’s practice within the established population foci. Education and assessment strategies for specialty areas will be developed by the nursing profession, i.e., nursing organizations and special interest groups. Education for a specialty can occur concurrently with APRN education required for licensure or through post-graduate education. Competence at the specialty level will not be assessed or regulated by boards of nursing but rather by the professional organizations (APRN Consensus Model, 2008).
In addition to their clinical role, NPs may serve as health care researchers, interdisciplinary consultants, and patient advocates. NPs provide a wide range of health care services including the diagnosis and management of acute, chronic and complex health problems, health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling to individuals, families, groups and communities.
The nurse practitioner blends the scientific process, current evidence and national standards of care with a holistic approach to manage patient care and foster professional practice. This process includes the following components.
The nurse practitioner assesses health status by:
The nurse practitioner makes a diagnosis by:
The nurse practitioner, together with the patient and family, establishes an evidence-based, mutually acceptable, cost-conscious, effective plan of care that maximizes health potential or end of life decisions. Formulation of the plan of care includes:
Interventions are based upon established priorities and consistent with the nurse practitioner's specialized education and clinical practice. Actions by nurse practitioners are:
The nurse practitioner maintains a process for systematic follow-up by:
The nurse practitioner’s practice model emphasizes patient-centered holistic health care:
The nurse practitioner provides health and wellness education and utilizes community resource opportunities for the individual and/or family.
The nurse practitioner facilitates patient participation in health care by providing evidenced based, culturally sensitive information needed to make decisions and choices regarding:
As a licensed, autonomous practitioner, the nurse practitioner contributes to patient care as a team leader and member in the provision of health care, interacting with professional colleagues to provide patient-centered comprehensive quality care.
The nurse practitioner maintains accurate, legible, and confidential records.
The nurse practitioner is a responsible advocate for patient welfare and upholds ethical and legal standards. As an advocate, the nurse practitioner influences health policy at the local, state, national, and international levels.
Nurse practitioners recognize the importance of continued education through:
Nurse practitioners combine the roles of provider, mentor, preceptor, educator, researcher, advocate, and interdisciplinary consultant. The nurse practitioner interprets and emulates the role of the nurse practitioner to individuals, families, professional colleagues, and legislators.
Nurse practitioners support research and dissemination of evidence-based practice by developing clinical research questions, conducting or participating in studies, implementing quality improvement, and incorporating system changes into practice.