Nurse practitioners are one of the healthcare roles people will come into contact with the most throughout their lives, and they provide essential primary care relating to a wide range of health issues – including complex conditions. Whether you are considering advancing your own career towards becoming a nurse practitioner – for instance, if you are already a registered nurse – or you are just interested in how the healthcare landscape has been changed by COVID, here we look at the importance of nurse practitioners in coping with this year’s global health crisis:
What Are Nurse Practitioners?
Nurse practitioners are people who have achieved advanced medical qualifications as nurses, and who are generally focused on primary care – working directly with patients both in hospitals and clinics, and in other places with dedicated healthcare professionals on site like schools, prisons, and college campuses.
Depending on the state, NP practice authority allows nurse practitioners to work autonomously and provide diagnoses and care for all kinds of conditions, and this means that they can take the place of family physicians for a lot of cases. During the pandemic, some regions which did not previously give full authority to practice nurses waived some of their usual requirements for physician supervision to allow nurse practitioners like FNPs to provide care to the fullest of their abilities. In other states where this was already the case, nurse practitioners became more essential than ever in meeting the healthcare needs of their communities, both for COVID and non-COVID related health problems.
Filling The Gap Caused by too Few Primary Care Physicians
There is a recognized deficit in the US in the number of physicians who choose to work in primary care. This means that for patients to be seen for many of the conditions that would usually cause them to want to visit a GP, other skilled medical professionals have to be able to provide that service. Nurse practitioners are in the perfect position to fill that gap, and this is something that the role has been able to do very effectively. During the pandemic, with a greater demand for all healthcare professionals, this aspect of a nurse practitioner’s role has been more vital than ever.
Providing Care in Rural Areas
Where travel has been inhibited a lot by various measures put in place due to the pandemic, in some rural areas, nurse practitioners have been a lifeline for people who need all kinds of different healthcare support. Nurse practitioners are already an essential role in providing healthcare in remote locations where the nearest large hospital could be hours away, and this has been the case more than ever in 2020.
As you can see, nurse practitioners have really been worked to their limits during the pandemic so far and have been among the true heroes of the crisis. Seeing the vital role that they have played definitely shows just how critical having good nurses following the path to becoming nurse practitioners is to the future of healthcare.