Nurse practitioners are healthcare professionals who use their advanced nursing degree to care for patients. They often work with other medical staff members to create treatment plans and provide patient education.
NPs are sometimes referred to as mid-level providers or physician extenders, but these terms may mislead patients into thinking that they receive mediocre care. Let’s examine how nurse practitioners approach patient care differently than physicians.
Since Florence Nightingale, nurse practitioners have worked to meet not only the physical needs of their patients, but also to address emotional and spiritual needs. This is known as holistic nursing and is one of the cornerstones that sets FNPs apart from other nurses.
Holistic patient care involves assessing and taking into consideration an individual’s personal values, beliefs, culture, environment and lifestyle. This includes a focus on the patient’s support systems, such as family members and friends, as well as other community groups that may provide emotional or social support.
A key component of holistic patient care is providing a comfortable and positive experience for the patient. This can be achieved through establishing caring relationships, encouraging patient participation in their health and wellness choices, and incorporating the patient’s values and preferences into their care plan. Ultimately, this can help the patient feel more empowered and capable of managing their condition. Having this approach also helps to reduce stress, which can contribute to a wide range of health problems.
Nurse practitioners interact with patients on a daily basis and this can be both a positive and a negative aspect of the job. Listening to a patient’s problems and complaints can be gratifying, but when patients are upset or hostile it can create an environment that is difficult to work in. The ability to diffuse situations and resolve conflicts is a valuable skill that can be applied in many aspects of the nurse practitioner’s career.
The ability to listen to patients and understand their concerns is a big part of the NP’s job, which is why many studies show that NP patient satisfaction is higher than physician patient satisfaction. This may be due to the holistic approach NPs take, their education and training or just the fact that they are good listeners. Patients want to feel heard and that their concerns matter. They also want to be treated with courtesy and respect. These are soft skills that can be taught and learned in school or on the job, but they are invaluable to the nurse practitioner.
Patient advocacy is a core component of nurse practitioner skills. It includes being mindful of patients’ traditions, values, belief systems, and socioeconomic circumstances. This helps build the trusted partnerships that are essential to delivering patient-centered care. It also involves addressing any unconscious or biased perspectives that may interfere with the ability to understand and respond effectively to patient actions and choices.
NPs also emphasize the importance of patient education. They often provide information on health and medical conditions, medications and treatment plans to help empower their patients. In addition, NPs may offer or direct healthcare services in underserved areas either in person or through telehealth to improve the quality of life for their community.
As an advanced practice registered nurse, a nurse practitioner can record symptoms and conduct physical exams to diagnose health issues. They also counsel people on how to stay healthy, prescribe medications (level of authority varies), and order, interpret and discuss results from diagnostic tests. Studies have shown that NPs are associated with equitable patient satisfaction rates as well as decreased healthcare costs.
A patient’s perception of his or her nurse can have a significant impact on his or her willingness to comply with treatment protocols. Therefore, the ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills that nurses must possess.
NPs use verbal communication to convey essential information to their patients, and they also need to be able to read nonverbal cues that can indicate a change in the patient’s condition. For example, if a patient says that his or her pain is a 2 on a scale of 10, but displays grimacing facial expressions and guarded body posture, this may indicate a worsening of the patient’s condition.
Nurses also need to have excellent written communication skills, especially when preparing handwritten notes to be handed over to a doctor. It is essential that this writing be clear, concise and readable. In addition, nurses often need to communicate with patients who cannot speak or have difficulty doing so because of physical impediments or anxiety.