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The backbone of the medical profession


Nurses are said to be the backbone of the medical profession, and without them, it would fall apart. Nurses must be highly trained to do their job and have the relevant qualifications.  They usually start training by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN), which gives them very little responsibility but does provide practical training. Moving on to be a Licenced Practical Nurse (LNP) is next, and this does allow them to do extra jobs such as giving injections, preparing patients for surgery, changing dressings and maintaining patients’ medical records. The next step up the ladder is as a Registered Nurse (RN), which they are able to make nursing diagnoses and act in a supervisory role. The final step for most is to become a Practitioner Nurse (PN) and this is often in one specialist area.

Specialties of practice nurses

Once you are qualified as a Nurse Practitioner, the medical profession is full of opportunities. Health officials are predicting that over the next 10 years the healthcare sector in the US will grow by 36 percent and there will be a shortageof skilleddoctors. This situation is exasperated by an aging populationand Nurse Practitioners will help to fill that gap as it could reach a point where thereare just not enough doctors to deal with all the patients.

You could become a Nurse Practitioner in surgery, in mental health, in research, on hospital wards or you could become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Of course, whichever area is chosen, specialist training such as that provided by Simmons will be needed. You can find out more about the Family Nurse Practitioner specialization at

Online nursing programs are flexible with regard to hours. They can be completed as a full or part-time course, to suit lifestyle and personal commitments such as jobs and family. They have virtual classrooms where students can meet up with other classmates and tutors, to discuss their studies and ask any questions.

Online degrees are accepted just the same as if a physical university had been attended; there is no distinction between them at all and they can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

How nurse practitioners evolved

The first two areas nurse practitioners in America were trained for was midwifery and as anesthetists. This was in the 1940s, and by the mid-1950s the trend had spread to psychiatry as well. By the mid-1960s, it was realized that this was a way to help alleviate the problems caused by a shortage of doctors, and programmes were developed to train nurse practitioners in all areas of medicine. By the 1980s, it was made a requirement that a master’s degree was earned to become a nurse practitioner and that a license would be needed.

The role of a family nurse practitioner

The role of an FPN can vary slightly from state to state, but generally the procedures they canperform include:

  • Diagnosing and treating a wide range of illnesses, including chronic diseases
  • Obtaining and maintaining patient records
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Requesting diagnostic tests such as blood test, scans,and x-rays
  • Arranging treatments such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy or other rehabilitation treatments
  • Prescribing drugs
  • Providing care for pregnant women and family planning services
  • Providing care for children, including screening for any problems and vaccinations
  • Running well-person clinics to help with health maintenance for adults
  • Arranging care for patients with acute or chronic long-term illnesses
  • Performing or assisting with minor surgery
  • Counseling and educating patients on health matters

Having a qualified nursing practitioner assisting them can help relieve the pressure on the doctors if the nurse decides that they want to work within the doctor’s practice.

Some FNPs start their own practices, particularly in areas that have a lack of doctors. This is allowed in 20 US states and they often become the life-long medical person for many patients. In the remaining states, they still have more authority than other nursing levels, but they need a doctor to sign for some procedures.

Preventative medicine

FNP’s play a large role in preventative medicine. They encourage people to improve their diets and to exercise to help keep them healthy and are able to advise on all such matters. If there are illnesses that run in the family, they will be able to assist with measures to keep any consequences to a minimum. The FNP’s will carry out regular checks on people, even those that feel healthy so that risk factors can be identified and to ensure that vaccinations are kept up to date.

Checking blood pressure, blood sugars, screening for cancers and for sexually transmitted diseases could all help to keep someone healthy and let them live longer.

Every year, across the globe, millions of people die from illnesses that could have been prevented. An American study in 2000 showed that roughly half of deaths fit into this category because of heart disease, respiratory diseases, diabetes and other conditions that can be caused by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. This percentage is an improvement on just 10 years before, but even so, the World Health Organisation estimated 55 million people died worldwide in 2011 from diseases that could have been prevented.

Other areas nurse practitioners may specialise in

Some people have a passion for working with the elderly, and this is one role a Nurse Practitioner (NP) can specialize in. Learning how to administer healthcare to the aging population comes with challenges all of its own, but they are the sort of problems aGeriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP) is trained to deal with. It is not uncommon to find a GPN that visits care home situations, sometimes having more than one to look after.

Helping people with mental illnesses is an area that needs a special type of person, but one that an NP is more than qualified to deal with. They are allowed to diagnose and prescribe treatments in the same way as a psychiatrist would. Their patients could include people with medical organic brain issues, psychiatric disorders or substance abuse problems. They will manage patient care and ensure the family has the support they need.

Surgical Nurse Practitioners (SNP) help with operations, usually acting as the first assistant to the surgeon. Since resident doctors, including surgeons, are not allowed to work more than an 80-hour week, the demand for SNP’s has become greater. As technology evolves so does their role in the operating theatre.

A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) works with patients from infancy through to young adulthood. A love of children is what usually determines this specialty. They will have the patience to spend the time often needed with children to gain their confidence. As well as dealing with vaccinations, they will keep a check on a child’s development, treat common illnesses and generally make sure the child is as well as it should be.

These are just a selection of the available specialist areas a Nurse Practitioner can be involved in, and any training they need can all be part of the NP course they choose to follow for their degree. The American qualification of Nursing Practitioner is highly thought of worldwide, and for many, it can open the door for them to work abroad as well as in the USA.

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