Over the last decade, the changing demands in health care have resulted in a significant demand for Nurse Practitioners. A nurse practitioner (NP) is a nurse with a graduate degree in advanced practice nursing. The NP has completed a nurse practitioner program in primary health care and has advanced knowledge and clinical expertise in assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and health care management. The nurse practitioner provides wide-ranging and constant care to patients in a variety of medical settings.
There are a number of challenges facing nurse practitioners. The need for a more flexible and progressive approach to a nurse practitioner's delivery of care is a fundamental challenge. Much of the work traditionally carried out by general practitioners will need to be delegated to properly trained personnel such as nurse practitioners. This means that the ability to work with the medical profession and with other healthcare professionals is most important to the leadership challenges facing nurses.
This is particularly important in poorer communities where access to a general physician is limited. Nurses in these settings will be relied on in such areas as providing medical advice, assessing illnesses and injuries, screening and categorizing patients, monitoring and care for patients with chronic illnesses, prescribing and interpreting diagnostic tests, health promotion and education, nutritional advice, breast and cervical screening...etc.
The challenges that are most significant to nursing staff are to make a distinction with their roles among other health professionals, and provide a service with reliable guidelines about the clinical and effectiveness of their interventions. The Nurse Practitioner degree program is specific in its objectives that includes physical assessment and screening, diagnosis, pharmacology and drug interactions; diagnostics, emotional support and counseling, referral and discharge, case management and employing research and audit to practice.
General barriers that nurse practitioners face include prescriptive abilities and regulation of practice. To be able to prescribe would allow patients to be treated quickly and effectively by nurse practitioners who have pharmacology as part of their degree program. The biggest opposition to nurse practitioners expanding roles are physician organizations. They argue that the education does not train nurses to change or enhance their practice abilities, and that nursing programs are not all the same. They say that the programs provide little clinical training.
As nursing programs spread across the country and more nurse practitioners become involved in all areas of the medical profession, there is growing demand to modify nurse practitioner programs to quell physician concerns and allow nurse practitioners to take on more responsibilities.
Nurses are committed to excellence in meeting and exceeding a quality standard of care. Throughout the world, nurse practitioners are being accepted and respected as essential healthcare providers. Academic institutions are providing quality programs that integrate medical practice and research. The issue is the lack of acceptance and recognition by medical professional associations and legislative bodies. Since health promotion and disease prevention have become a concern throughout the world, in the coming years, nurses are going to be recognized as a valuable and essential asset for the entire medical community.