Most people think that the nursing profession leaves little room for career advancement. Nurses seem to be fated to lifetime of working in the hospital, clutching a patientís chart wherever they go. However, that is not the case. Nurses, from any field of practice or specialty, do have career advancement opportunities. Most nurses get promoted from staff nurses to head nurses. With the right post-graduate units, a nurse could easily become a hospitalís chief nurse or be a college dean.
Aside from becoming head nurses, chief nurses and deans, nurses can also choose to become Nurse Practitioners. Becoming a nurse practitioner gives the nurse a greater degree of professional independence. The role of an NP varies from country to country but in general, they are allowed to hold clinics, examine patients and even prescribe medication.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse Practitioners are a type of Advance Practice Nurses (APNs). They are registered nurses that have acquired advanced training and education. Their educational attainment gives them a higher degree of professional independence than regular RNs. They are now allowed to examine patients as well as prescribe medication.
Other nurse professionals under the APN umbrella include Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwifes and Clinical Nurse Specialists.
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner
In order to become a Nurse Practitioner, the nurse must first have a valid license in his/her country of practice (licensure regulations may differ from country to country). NPs are also required to have a Masterís Degree or a PhD in Nursing. They may also be required to pass certification and licensure examinations before they can fully practice as APNs.
Before becoming an NP, nurses are advised to gain a strong medical background. Many schools abroad offer a Masterís degree in Advance Practice Nursing. The same goes in the Philippines. Philippine-based nurses may also take specialized Nurse Practitioner programs such as those offered by the Philippine Heart Center and other medical institutions.
What are the Duties of a Nurse Practitioner?
The duties of a nurse practitioner do not differ much from the duties of the RN or a regular health professional. Their main goal continues to center around patient care and well-being. However, unlike a Regular RN a NP is allowed to independently examine patients with acute and chronic health care problems. They are also licensed to prescribe medication to such patients. Acute illness may include coughs, flu, colds and localized infections. Chronic conditions include clinical depression, diabetes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, etc.
NPs also focus imparting health education to patients. They also allowed to immunize patients and perform thorough physical examinations. These nurses also refer their patientís to specialists who can handle their condition better.
Work Opportunities for Nurse Practitioners
One of the major benefits of becoming a nurse practitioner is that nurses have the opportunity to set up their own clinical practice. These nurses can work in remote area where patients rarely get the medical attention they need. There they can provide patients with acute care, prescribe medication, refer patients and promote disease prevention and provide heath education.
Nurse Practitioners may also choose to continue working in the hospital or in an outpatient setting. They may also work as travel or home care nurses.
Because of their advance educational status, Nurse Practitioners get a higher salary than regular registered nurses do. These nurses may also hold higher positions in the hospital or educational setting.
Nurse Practitioners Abroad and here in the Philippines
Nurse Practitioners are growing in number ever year. Some countries like the US, the UK and Canada already have established guidelines for their NPs. These countries have fully embraced the Nurse Practitioner. NPs are respected and considered as an integral part of the medical community. Here in the Philippines, the concept of the NP and other APN professions is just taking hold. However, it is a steadily growing field and each year more nurses attend Post-graduate Education Programs to help improve their professional standing.