The Complicated Role of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

Formal nursing has played an important role in healthcare for over 150 years. Doctors diagnose and treat patients, but nurses handle patient care, including administering medication and checking vital signs.

Gradually, the role of nurses has expanded, with many registered nurses specializing in different patient populations or the type of care they offer. Some are even continuing their education to become specialized nurse practitioners, such as pediatric nurse practitioners.

Pediatric nurse practitioners are becoming more common and helping to ease the physician shortage we’re facing in the United States. But what does a pediatric nurse practitioner do, exactly, and why is their role in the healthcare system a little bit complicated? Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are recognized as a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They have advanced training in medicine and can provide a wide range of healthcare services for patients. Some nurse practitioners even have their own practices and provide many of the same services as doctors.

Rather than providing “bedside care,” which is usually carried out by registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), NPs and other APRNs generally create treatment plans and oversee patient care. They typically have much more autonomy than an RN would and can help patients with everything from preventative care to treatment for acute injuries and illnesses that come on suddenly.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

While many nurse practitioners specialize in general care and are known as family nurse practitioners (FNPs), pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) specialize in caring for children, also including infants, toddlers, and teens. Working with pediatric patients can be challenging for a number of different reasons, but nurse practitioners get into this field because they love children and want to help them stay healthy.

What is the Role of a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

A PNP has an in-depth understanding of child development and the specialized medical needs of children. They can help families with a variety of needs, including childhood wellness checkups, giving immunizations, answering health questions, and treating common childhood illnesses and disorders. PNPs also need to be able to spot signs of abuse and be prepared to report their suspicions if necessary.

In some situations, a nurse practitioner will be able to provide most or all of the services a child needs from their pediatrician. In other cases, a PNP will be part of a larger care team, helping a pediatrician deliver care to children. PNPs have to be extremely patient in order to work with children and their families, who are often scared or confused when they visit the doctor.

Limitations on Nurse Practitioners Can Complicate Care Plans

Depending on an individual state’s laws, nurse practitioners do not always have full practice authority. In some states, they are allowed to diagnose patients and prescribe medications. In others, they need a physician’s oversight or are otherwise limited in the care they can provide.

This means that depending on where you live, becoming a nurse practitioner might not give you the autonomy you’re looking for. If your state has strict limitations on what you can do as a nurse practitioner, it’s important to realize that your job and responsibilities will be different from an NP in a full-practice state.

A Focus on Coordinating Care

PNPs need to be prepared to coordinate care with other healthcare providers, particularly in states that do not allow full practice for APRNs. A PNP needs a wide variety of skills to properly work with pediatric patients and other providers to deliver excellent care. Some of these skills include:

      • Diagnosing patients who cannot express themselves verbally
      • Calming fearful children and parents
      • Collaborating verbally with other providers to create care plans
      • Taking thorough notes to share with other providers
      • Educating families on child development and health

Pediatric nurse practitioners must be compassionate, thorough, organized, and tactful. They need to be prepared to look at a child’s health from every angle and take a variety of factors into account when diagnosing and prescribing treatment or medications.

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

The road to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner begins with becoming a registered nurse. Then, a master’s degree in nursing is required before you can take the board examination to become a PNP. The full-time programs can be expensive, but there are scholarships available.

If you have an associate’s degree, the process of becoming a PNP takes 3-4 years if you attend your program full-time. Those with a bachelor’s degree can usually complete the education requirements in 2 years.

Becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner is no easy feat. However, the demand for skilled healthcare professionals is growing and there’s never been a better time to be an APRN. If you love kids and want more autonomy as a nurse, being a PNP could be the perfect role for you

With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

 

10 Most In-Demand Nurse Practitioner Specialties

Nurse practitioners are a driving force in healthcare that provide meaningful care to scores of individuals. These professionals practice nursing at a high level and their duties often overlap with that of physicians. If you’re curious about pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner, it can help to be aware of the many specialties within the profession.

Here the 10 most in-demand nurse practitioner specialties.

1 – Family Care Nurse Practitioner

 Family care nurse practitioners focus on providing care to individuals throughout their lives. This means that these professionals treat children, teens, adults, and older adults in their practice, oftentimes developing prolonged relationships with patients.

The broad nature of family care allows nurse practitioners in this specialty to practice a wide variety of services and requires an advanced knowledge of healthcare practices. Their duties can range from performing physical exams on patients to treating chronic illnesses over the span of years.

2 – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

 Pediatric nurse practitioners specialize in providing care to children throughout their childhood. This means that these professionals can potentially treat the same patient over the course of several years through to young adulthood.

Typically, pediatric care nurse practitioners will treat many different illnesses that are specific to children. These include ailments such as Kawasaki disease and certain infections common to children.

3 – Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

 Adult gerontology nurse practitioners specialize in providing care to older adults. These professionals specialize in treating age-related ailments that their older patients are afflicted by.

In addition to treating certain illnesses, adult gerontology nurse practitioners will also provide patients with strategies and tips to maintain and promote good health as they age. This highlights the two-fold nature of the role, focusing on not only treating certain illnesses but also preventing the decline of health in various ways.

4 – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

 Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP) specialize in treating and assessing patients’ mental health states. They have the authority to both assess mental health ailments and prescribe medications as they see fit.

In addition, PMHNPs may also refer their patients to other professionals, such as psychotherapists, depending on their mental health needs. However, it must be noted that different states have different rules regarding the level of authority and autonomy that nurse practitioners may have, and PMHNP practices differ depending on the location in which they work.

5 – Oncology Nurse Practitioner

 Oncology nurse practitioners specialize in assessing and treating patients with cancer or those at high-risk of developing cancer. These professionals work closely with other medical professionals, such as physicians and registered nurses, and play a significant role in the treatment of cancer patients.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, making professionals with the skills to diagnose and treat this illness in high demand. As such, oncology nurse practitioners and the specialized skills they bring with them are in high-demand in today’s world.

6 – Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

 Acute care nurse practitioners specialize in treating patients who are in critical condition and need immediate care. Examples of ailments acute care nurse practitioners typically treat include heart attacks and trauma as the result of an accident.

In addition to providing immediate treatment, these nurse practitioners also work with patients to provide long term strategies for recovery and the promotion of good health. Given the unique skillset of these professionals, acute care nurse practitioners often work in institutions such as trauma units, urgent care units, and emergency rooms.

7 – Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner

 Aesthetic nurse practitioners specialize in providing patients or clients with a number of treatments clinical procedures that revolve around cosmetic changes to someone’s appearance. Some typical treatments performed by these professionals include botox injections and laser treatments.

The majority of aesthetic nurse practitioners work in private clinics, treatment centers, or spas. As opposed to many other nurse practitioners and medical specialties, aesthetic nurse practitioners typically work within normal business hours, potentially allowing for a more significant amount of work/life balance.

8 – Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

 Women’s health nurse practitioners specialize in providing women with care at various stages of their lives. Like midwives, these professionals may provide pregnancy-related pre-natal and post-natal care.

Other areas that women’s health nurse practitioners may work in include gynecological and menopausal care, both diagnosing patients and providing them with strategies to manage their ailments. These professionals are trained to be sensitive to the needs of the women that they treat and have an advanced social perspective.

9 – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

 Neonatal nurse practitioners specialize in providing care to infants who are suffering from a range of ailments, diseases, and infections. Some common ailments these professionals treat include heart abnormalities and infections in infants.

In addition to providing care to infants, neonatal nurse practitioners will also help educate parents on how to best care for their infants depending on their various needs. Typically, neonatal nurse practitioners work in specific neonatal-oriented care units or emergency rooms.

10 – Infectious Disease

 Infectious disease nurse practitioners specialize in treating and helping patients manage infectious diseases. In some cases, their work may revolve around helping prevent certain infectious diseases that certain patients may be more vulnerable to.

Some common illnesses that infectious disease nurse practitioners specialize in treating include Lyme disease and HIV. While many work in healthcare environments and provide healthcare to patients, some of these professionals work to inform healthcare policy by providing their expert opinion.

With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

 

A Day in the Life of a Rural Nurse Practitioner

While the exact daily responsibilities vary according to the type of clinic or office where an NP works, most rural NPs enjoy a great deal of autonomy while performing a wide range of tasks.

from NP Schools

Currently, only about 20 percent of physicians working in rural areas are under 40 years old, and 30 percent are rapidly approaching (or have already passed) retirement age. Due to an aging population and a lack of experienced and trained professionals, there is increasing demand for healthcare professionals in rural areas, leading to a significant opportunity for nurse practitioners to pick up the slack. Take a look at what a typical day in the life of a rural NP looks like.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Common Sense: Today’s Nurse Practitioner

There’s arguably no better time for NP’s to call their own shots, and no better time for healthcare administrators to apply this talent solution to meet their community’s need for care.

by Doug Carter

Nurse Practitioner is now the #1 ranked job in healthcare and #2 in the nation across all industries (US News & World Report Job Rankings for 2017, 1/12/17). Regardless of profession, no job gains such a high distinction without becoming a “win-win” for both those who do that job and those who understand the value of what that role brings to their organization.

There’s arguably no better time for NP’s to call their own shots, and conversely, no better time for healthcare administrators to apply this talent solution for the best opportunity to meet their community’s need for care.

Collaboration is Key

In order to understand the value of nurse practitioners within our healthcare delivery system, it’s important to first understand how they’ve gained the respect of other providers by successfully embracing their role within today’s collaborative settings.

It wasn’t long ago that many M.D.’s and their respective advocacy groups widely questioned the validity of nurse practitioners in a number of forums. However, those concerns have diminished in recent years. Nurse practitioners have gained respect from within, doing an outstanding job in proving their worth amongst peers, who together work toward a shared goal in the care of others.

There’s now acceptance of the fact that the success of our healthcare delivery system lies at the intersection of revenue & access to care; requiring a collaborative “team” solution in order to maximize a facility’s ability to meet both of those needs at the highest possible point of return.

The Proving Ground of Primary Care

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 90% of nurses who become NP’s by completing their Master’s Degree originate from primary care settings. This is the ideal proving ground for new nurse practitioners because that’s exactly where they’re needed most as today’s physicians increasingly choose better paying opportunities outside of primary care.

Nurse practitioners are ideal within the scope of primary care’s growing demand for a number of reasons. They have the ability to provide care in a wide range of practice settings within all types of communities.

Rural areas of the country, specifically, remain hardest hit by our shortage of qualified providers. In rural areas, there are roughly 13 physicians per 100,000 people in comparison to 31 in urban areas, according to the National Rural Health Association. These communities have the highest rates of uninsured, underserved, aging, and vulnerable patients. However, when utilizing nurse practitioners, rural hospitals have been able to uphold satisfaction rates on par with physicians.

Healthcare executives and administrators praise the cost savings associated with utilizing NP’s as well.

“Nurse Practitioners play a critical role in the operation of our health center and in our Country’s primary care delivery network. Their skills, knowledge and commitment to the values of the nursing profession offer our patients high quality, cost-effective primary care,” says Ken Gordon, Chief Executive Officer at Coos County Family Health Services in Berlin, New Hampshire.

The rising costs of providing care are top of mind with all facilities. NP’s are more affordable to recruit, train, and retain in comparison to physicians.

A Bright Future

While the shortage of physicians becomes an unfortunate reality, the growth of nurse practitioners remains largely unhindered. Individuals choosing healthcare as a career see a faster, cheaper, and less bureaucratic route to reaching their goals by becoming an NP. On average a nurse practitioner requires only six years of education in comparison to the decade (or more) required to become a physician, depending on their choice of specialty.

Doctors are also strapped with higher debt upon their completion. In addition, our access to new physicians in the United States still arguably bottlenecks at the point of Medicaid- funded residencies through the national matching program. Even with sporadic state-level solutions to the problem and a continued political rhetoric geared towards shedding light on this longstanding issue of supply, we’ve been unable to keep up with our nation’s need for care. NP’s just don’t face the same uphill battle.

If you ask healthcare facilities to consider a larger pool of providers that bring 80%-90% of the skill set of doctors, they’ll take it. If the choice is a vacancy that equals lost revenue and inability to meet the healthcare needs of their community – or, a staffing solution that entails nurse practitioners – the choice is easy. In an urgent situation, with revenue-based healthcare delivery and the widespread reach required to meet increased numbers of patients in the US – NP’s make sense right now.


Doug Carter is a Partner at Ironside Human Resources. Ironside HR is a national healthcare recruitment firm based in Dallas, Texas, dedicated to meeting the needs of medical providers, executives, administrators, and the communities in which they serve. Doug can be reached at 214-785-2404
or doug@ironsidehr.com.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

According to This Doctor, NPs Are Not the Cure for Rural Health Woes

““Apples and oranges” does not even come close to comparing the levels of knowledge and training between nurse practitioners and physicians,” says Dr. Sudhakar Madakasira.

from Clarion Ledger

Allowing nurse practitioners to practice without oversight of physicians could help address access to care shortages in Mississippi, particularly in rural areas. However, physicians, including those in the state of Mississippi and American Medical Association, say there is no substitute for the advanced education and training doctors receive.

What are your thoughts? Share them below.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Maximizing Reimbursement: What Nurse Practitioners Need to Know

As NPs treat greater numbers of patients, they must take steps to ensure that they are properly reimbursed for their services.

from The Nurse Practitioner

With more people gaining access to healthcare coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the demand for primary care providers in the United States is expected to increase, dramatically outpacing supply. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the shortfall is expected to exceed 29,000 physicians by 2016 and more than 45,000 by 2020. Despite the anticipated gap, there is one group of healthcare providers that may stand to benefit from additional opportunities: nurse practitioners.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Survey: Most Nurse Practitioners Help Decode Medical Info for Their Patients

88% of NPs surveyed said they spend at least half of appointment times educating patients on diagnoses, treatments, and prescriptions.

from Drug Store News

Nurse practitioners play a crucial role in helping patients decode medical information, according to the findings of a recent Merck Manuals survey. The survey of 210 NPs, conducted at a recent medical conference, revealed that most (88%) believe they spend at least half of appointment times educating patients on diagnoses, treatments and prescriptions.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

NPs Get Stressed, Too! How They Can Manage It.

Being a Nurse Practitioner can be physically taxing and emotionally arduous. Here are 11 self-focused strategies to reduce that stress.

from Contemporary Clinic

In recent years, nursing and advanced practice nursing have made great strides in the public’s awareness of their profession. Nurse practitioners are appearing more often in the media, greater numbers of college students are choosing nursing as a career, and more patients have an NP as their health care provider. A career in nursing also has become well known for its job security, opportunities for growth, and competitive wages. In addition to these excellent job attributes, the public often views nursing in a favorable light, as evidenced by a consistent number-one ranking in the Gallup poll for most trusted profession and some positives stereotypes, such as the nurse angel or hero. But at what cost?

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

More NPs Choosing Primary Care

In 2017, more than 89% of NPs were prepared in primary care programs.

from Clinical Advisor

Nurse practitioners are choosing primary care at a higher rate than physicians and physician assistants, according to data from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.