Nov. 11 through Nov. 17 is National Nurse Practitioner week. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses with advanced education and licensure which allows them to prescribe medications, diagnose diseases, order diagnostic tests and other treatments. Studies show the quality of care provided by NPs is equal to care provided by physicians, and malpractice cases are low.
NPs are educated in primary care with emphasis on prevention and health promotion. NPs care for people with acute conditions such as pneumonia and chronic illnesses such as diabetes. A valuable skill NPs offer patients is the ability to listen and focus on the entire person, not just the disease. Nurse practitioners work collaboratively with physicians and other health professionals to optimize health and provide continuity of patient care.
A recent survey by the Journal of the American Medication Association showed only 2 percent of graduating medical students plan to go into primary care. There are over 14,000 nurse practitioners in California. With implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), many more primary care providers will be needed to meet the increased number of insured people, and NPs can be integral in meeting this challenge.
Nurse practitioners — a prescription for quality and cost effective health care.
Heidi Shates Yurong
Family nurse practitioner