Nurse practitioners are a crucial part of the healthcare landscape. Nonetheless, there are countless patients who are still not aware of how exactly they can benefit from the care of nurse practitioners.
If you are one of those people, here are 10 fun facts about nurse practitioners that will give you a better insight into the major role they play in the healthcare industry—and why you should start contemplating seeing one for your care.
1.) Nurse practitioners are an integral part of the United States’ primary care workforce.
There are an estimated 325,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) licensed in the United States. Of these, approximately 88 percent are certified in an area of primary care, and approximately 70 percent deliver primary care.
The role of nurse practitioners has exponentially evolved. Nurse practitioners have been an excellent solution for the ever-increasing patient demand and the need for high-quality, efficient care delivery. Family nurse practitioners, for instance, are instrumental in managing patient caseloads at hospitals, clinics, and medical practices.
According to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, there are approximately 83 million Americans who live in areas where the demand for primary care physicians outstrips supply—so much so that it necessitates federal resources. Nurse practitioners play a pivotal role in confronting such dire shortage, serving as a lifeline for patients, many of whom struggle to access decent-quality care. Moreover, the tens of thousands of nurse practitioners entering the field every year represent a growing, compassionate, and highly trained workforce ready to tackle this challenge.
2.) Nurse practitioners are different from regular nurses.
Although nurse practitioners are essentially registered nurses, they are different from regular nurses. Nurse practitioners require further education, completing either a Master of Science in Nursing (MS-N) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Before receiving board certification, nurse practitioners need to receive around 500 hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction. This is on top of 500 to 700 hours of clinical work.
3.) Nurse practitioners provide the same level of care as physicians do.
Albeit different states have different supervisory models between nurse practitioners and physicians, the former have their own licenses and provide the same level of care as doctors do.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) maintains a comprehensive list of original research and meta-analyses that underpins the role of NPs. This is valuable information in the ongoing effort to expand practice authority for nurse practitioners and with the enduring debate between physicians and nursing organizations about the scope of practice and regulation of nurse practitioners.
Like doctors, NPs can pursue specializations. They can select one of these six population foci:
- Family health or family care
- Adult gerontology
- Pediatrics (Children’s health)
- Women’s health
- Mental health
Nurse practitioners may further specialize within their chosen focus. For example, an adult-gerontology NP might decide to take up further studies to become an orthopedic NP.
4.) Nurse practitioners are versatile healthcare providers.
Family nurse practitioners, for instance, can function both autonomously and collaboratively and can administer care to patients across all age groups.
According to the AANP, in 23 states, nurse practitioners have what’s called full practice authority, which means they are allowed to practice without physician oversight.
Nurse practitioners fulfill various important functions: they can educate and counsel patients, diagnose diseases, prescribe medications, collaborate with specialists in chronic disease management, and order lab and medical imaging tests, among others, within their statutory and regulatory standards.
5.) There are more than a billion patient visits made to nurse practitioners every year.
According to the AANP, in 2018 alone, there were an estimated 1.06 billion patient visits made to nurse practitioners. This is sheer evidence of the faith more and more patients have in NP-provided healthcare—patients who are cognizant of the value of high-quality services flock to nurse practitioners for most of their healthcare needs.
6.) Nurse practitioners hold the potential to become the foundation of a healthcare team.
Given the fact that they perform many of the same tasks as physicians do and with their focus on delivering holistic care, nurse practitioners serve as a valuable conduit in team-based approaches. Their versatility and ability to smoothly collaborate with other nurses and specialists while also providing direct care to the patient equip them to become foundational members of a healthcare team.
7.) Nurse practitioners have a low malpractice rate.
According to the AANP, malpractice claim rates have remained low over the years, with only two percent of NPs named as primary defendants.
8.) Nurse practitioners keep abreast of the latest advances in clinical practice and emerging trends in healthcare.
One such trend is telemedicine. This type of healthcare delivery model allows patients to access their primary care providers remotely, ensuring continuity of care—especially for those who have mobility issues or who live in remote areas—and allowing them to feel safe in their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare providers can be accessed via virtual appointments, significantly saving both patients’ and clinicians’ valuable time.
9.) Nurse practitioners are community advocates.
Nurse practitioners are in a prime position to make a huge impact in the community, and this begins by helping the people in their locale get and stay healthy. On an individual level, the supportive guidance that an NP provides empowers the patient to make healthy choices that lead to a healthier, longer life.
Nurse practitioners play an integral role in community mentorship and networking. NPs facilitate ongoing community partnerships to address current health issues by establishing special interest groups and joint commissions. These activities enable them to foster community initiatives that continually promote local public health and that are instrumental in shaping an environment that responds to the needs of the citizens.
10.) Nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs.
Research has shown that patients attended to by nurse practitioners have fewer unnecessary hospital readmissions, potentially preventable hospitalizations, and unnecessary emergency room visits compared to patients under the care of physicians. These ultimately translate into lower healthcare costs.
Board-Certified Nurse Practitioners in Kent, WA
At the FamilyCare of Kent, our board-certified nurse practitioners pride themselves on their extensive experience and unwavering dedication to providing the families in Kent and neighboring areas with unrivaled quality of care, helping them live an excellent quality of life.