There are many reasons for nurses to consider expanding their skills with a high-level graduate degree. The healthcare landscape is constantly changing, opening new opportunities for nursing specialists.
When one feels ready to expand their passion for helping vulnerable people achieve better health and lifestyles, advanced nursing can be an excellent path. Nurse practitioners are one of the fastest-growing segments of medical professionals who truly make a difference in many healthcare environments.
Benefits of an MSN degree
Nurses likely understand the way providing holistic, integrative medicine for patients can improve chronic diseases and other physical and mental health issues they face. Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) can allow them to work with certain populations to better their health options and offer them new approaches to managing their day-to-day lives.
Taking the step toward earning aMaster of Science in Nursing degree can be flexible and convenient with one of the RN to MSN online programs. Wilkes University’s RN to MSN degree offers a fully online program with unparalleled support from faculty and staff.
This program focuses on evidence-based practices for improved patient outcomes. As one works on the program, they can align their career goals with the appropriate concentration. Wilkes University offers three concentrations: family nurse practitioner (FNP), adult gerontology nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner.
Expanded career opportunities
Nurse practitioners can be an important part of a medical team that cares for a variety of patients. There are multiple care settings in which theyc an see patients and help them manage their chronic illnesses and health issues. Nurse practitioners can be found in urgent care centers, private practices, hospital units and surgery centers.
Increased professional recognition
Earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree places nurse practitioners on par with other high-level medical professionals. As a peer of physical therapists, doctors and other medical providers on the care team, this achievement will be viewed as a mark of dedication to the nursing profession. In many medical environments, it can require the entire team working together to help their patients more effectively.
More complex healthcare needs
As the population ages, a vast group of people needs ongoing healthcare in a variety of ways. Nurse practitioners can be ideally positioned to address the medical needs of a large aging population, often filling the gaps in primary care for older adults.
As people age, they can experience health problems that can be improved with preventive care and healthier habits. Part of one’s role as a nurse practitioner can be to help them navigate health challenges more successfully.
One focus of being a nurse practitioner is patient-centered care. This means one can spend more time with patients than normal to assess their overall health and hear their concerns. This aspect of listening to the patient often leads to a strong bond of trust. The relational aspect of this nursing practice helps the nurse practitioner to prescribe individualized care that can be targeted and effective, further increasing the patient’s trust and confidence.
The role of a nurse practitioner
Nurse practitioners have become a crucial part of the medical landscape as they assume leadership roles. These medical professionals are authorized to diagnose, treat and prescribe a plan to manage chronic diseases and illnesses.
Nurse practitioners are considered primary care providers who can function autonomously to care for their patients. Their scope of practice can be limited to state regulations, but many states allow nurse practitioners to practice independently.
A primary focus of nursing practice is evidence-based care which is the integration of the most recent research on issues that affect elderly people, the patient’s values and clinical expertise. Since the goal of nursing is to provide the best patient care and experience, utilizing evidence-based care can employ proven methods to help medical providers and patients choose from among the many treatment options.
As a nurse, one knows that medical care and health objectives are not a one-size-fits-all application. Nursing leaders, like nurse practitioners, can be a vital part of establishing evidence-based care in a particular work setting to help nurses and patients in their oversight implement best practices.
Through a careful analysis of evidence and high-quality research, NPs can find ways to care for their patients that increase successful outcomes and prevent read mittance.
The family nurse practitioner concentration
One of the concentrations for the Master of Science in Nursing —Nurse Practitioner degree is to become a family nurse practitioner. Becoming an FNP could be the right path for someone who likes to build relationships with people and has a passion to help them with their medical challenges.
This role is a key connection between patients and effective medical care. As part of day-to-day care, nurse practitioners see patients in the office where theycan discuss their concerns and symptoms. After reviewing their medical history, they can request medical tests that help diagnose medical diseases and chronic health issues.
A large part of the success of medical care is a personalized medical plan to help patients live healthier, better lives. This can include recommending ways to manage chronic health problems and diseases that can interfere with daily life. Nurse practitioners might also refer patients to specialists who can help them with specific diseases.
Depending on the state, many nurse practitioners can perform small medical procedures and prescribe physical therapy. Family nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings to care for patients.
Family nurse practitioners in urgent care centers
In most urgent care centers, a nurse practitioner performs the same duties as a primary care physician. They will see a wide variety of patients,some with serious problems, that they must refer to the emergency room.
The majority of patients will need diagnostic tests to determine the exact nature of the medical problem. Family nurse practitioners should plan to see patients from babies through elderly adults. They could manage other employees of the center, create work schedules and oversee the medical supplies inventory.
Keep in mind that most patients who come to an urgent care facility are stressed and sick. This environment can require a high level of empathy and a calm demeanor.
Family nurse practitioners in hospital settings
The hospital might be the place for family nurse practitioners who love a fast pace at work. Many of these medical professionals work in the emergency department where patients are coming at all times of day for diverse reasons. FNPs need to think on their feet quickly to diagnose and treat patients in the ER, ranking the most injured or sickest to the least.
Family nurse practitioners in acute care settings
The acute care units of hospitals have the sickest and most injured patients. A family nurse practitioner in an acute care setting has the role of assessing and treating patients after serious surgeries and injuries. They work closely with the families of the patients to educate them on the process of getting better.
Part of a family nurse practitioner’s daily responsibilities is to prescribe medications for the patients and evaluate their progress. When they order tests and other diagnostics, they interpret them to see where the care plan needs adjustments. Working with doctors, pharmacists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals, they are a vital part of a team that ensures patients get the best care possible.
The adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
Many nurse practitioners like to work with older adults and elderly people. With a rapidly aging population, nurse practitioners can be vital medical professionals in the assessment and treatment of the unique needs of an older person.
Older adults and elderly people struggle with reduced respiratory strength, lessened bone density and high rates of infection as their physical health declines. Gerontology nurse practitioners focus on providing high-quality healthcare to older adults through education on illness prevention, managing chronic health problems and diseases well, and improving health habits.
Health issues that are characteristic of older adults are:
- Diabetes is one of the most common diseases among older adults. This disease often accompanies other diseases like heart disease, strokes and obesity. As the body ages, increased insulin resistance with poor pancreatic function can lead to diabetes or pre-diabetes. If not managed correctly, diabetes can slow physical activity which further causes health problems. Gerontology nurse practitioners can help older people live longer, better lives, with nutrition assistance and medications.
- Strokes are also common in older adults due to the narrowing of arteries as the body gets older. Some estimates sugges tthe chance of having a stroke doubles with each decade over 50 years old. Smoking, heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol and drug use are risk factors for strokes.
- Cancer is a common risk for older people because human cells become damaged over time. As time goes on, the damage accumulates and can cause certain cancers.
Evidence-based nursing practice gives the nurse practitioner more power in treatment methods. An example is the gerontology nurse practitioner utilizing advanced diagnostic tests to determine the effects on older adults of illnesses or injuries.
This strategy enables nurse practitioners to approach events like strokes with more proven knowledge to handle these emergencies with better interventions and to provide follow-up care that improves the patient outcome.
The psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner
As a nurse, you likely already know that mental health and physical health are closely connected. Unfortunately, many people and entire groups of people have no access to mental health assistance, leaving them vulnerable and without help.
The role of the mental health nurse practitioner is to assess and diagnose mental health issues for all ages. They might prescribe medication and recommend therapy for their patients. There can also be times when they arrange a psychiatric intervention for a patient. Utilizing the most current psychotherapies and psychopharmacology can make a big difference in successful patient outcomes.
Many people who struggle with mental health also have drug and other addictions, but the older people in the population deal with other mental health issues like dementia and depression. As people age, their activity levels can decrease due to health issues or simple fatigue.
Along with the diminishing activity levels, many senior patients stay in the house more and lose their desire to eat. This can be a recurring cycle that ends up causing them not to thrive. This is where nurse practitioners for the elderly population can remain alert to the unique life situations of older people and intervene to help them return to better health through exceptional patient care. Mental health nurse practitioners will also help families and caregivers understand the life stage of the patient and how they can contribute positively.
Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner and evidence-based care
Mental health nurse practitioners provide mental health check-ups for older people to catch dementia and depression before it becomes serious. They also perform physical check-ups to ensure the older patients are eating, not losing weight and staying active. Applying evidence-based care to senior patients can help them live longer, happier and more healthy lives.
An example of evidence-based care for Alzheimer’s patients can come from understanding studies of long-term hereditary illnesses to learn new approaches and treatments. This specialized knowledge leads to novel ways to improve the lives of memory-challenged patients and their caregivers.
The job outlook is very positive as the need for nursing leaders of this caliber continues to rise. While each state has different levels of growth in this medical position, the overall national growth is projected to reach over 50%.
Nurse practitioners are some of the most in-demand medical professionals, largely due to the variety of roles they can fill. The current shortage of primary care physicians means there are many opportunities for nurse practitioners in rural areas, hospitals and under served populations.