Over the past few decades, nurse practitioners have become an integral part of the US healthcare system, providing a wide range of care in a large variety of medical specialties and institutions. In addition to providing support for doctors and delivering first class medical care, they also often take a wider perspective and encourage a more holistic approach to care. But how does this work in practice?
In this article, we examine how Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) in particular pay special consideration to aspects of lifestyle, culture and spiritual matters in relation to patient care, the importance of a patient-centered approach, and how this can lead to even more positive health outcomes.
A Rounded Approach
One of the advantages of seeing a nurse practitioner is that they may take a slightly different approach to that of doctors. Although many physicians certainly consider holistic aspects of care, generally speaking their primary function is to focus on specific physical or mental ailments and to provide the appropriate treatment. They are aware, of course, of how big a difference issues like lifestyle can make to patient outcomes, but focusing on this aspect is the main purpose of their job.
Studying for a career as a family nurse practitioner is a commendable choice for several compelling reasons. Family Nurse Practitioners are highly regarded healthcare professionals who play a pivotal role in patient care, with responsibilities ranging from diagnosing and treating medical conditions to providing comprehensive primary care. Opting for an online Family Nurse Practitioner program at an accredited institution, such as Carson-Newman University offers distinct advantages. At Carson-Newman, these include the MSN-FNP, which is for registered nurses who already hold a bachelor’s degree, and the Post-Master’s FNP certificate, which is for registered nurses who already hold a MSN degree.
Their online programs provide flexibility, allowing students to balance their studies with work or other commitments. Additionally, they often offer access to a diverse range of clinical experiences and cutting-edge resources, ensuring that aspiring FNPs receive a high-quality education while enjoying the convenience of remote learning. This makes online Family Nurse Practitioner programs an excellent choice for those seeking a rewarding and flexible path to an impactful healthcare career.
So, what areas of nursing and patient care should nurses prioritize?
Getting The Basics Right
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the area that nurse practitioners pay most attention to – beyond basic medical care – is encouraging people to eat well and exercise frequently. Though, of course, medical intervention or medicinal treatment are often required, countless studies have also demonstrated the importance of lifestyle factors in a range of different conditions, from heart disease and cancer to obesity and diabetes. This is particularly true in preventative medicine, though family nurse practitioners will also offer instructions for people who need to follow a special course for specific current issues.
FNPs will also offer advice and information about other important factors, including drug addiction, alcohol consumption, and smoking. FNPs will also look to provide positive solutions that can help their patients live healthier lives and reduce stress; while complex procedures may be involved, in many cases, this may also be something as simple as recommended yoga courses or stress-relief techniques that could bring significant benefit over a longer period of time.
In some cases, FNPs may also be more likely to recommend alternative treatments as additional options to medical treatment. These may include various types of herbal medicine – from chamomile or ginger tea to turmeric and flaxseed oil. In many cases, FNPs will suggest these kinds of options as a form of complementary or integrative medicine, meaning something that can be used in combination with other treatments rather than as an absolute alternative. Acupuncture, which has been proven to help in pain management, is another typical procedure where evidence has demonstrated its effectiveness to treat certain issues.
It is also important for family nurse practitioners to be well-versed in cultural aspects of healthcare – another crucial aspect of patient-centered care. FNPs should be capable of understanding and interacting with people of different cultures, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. They must be able to negotiate beliefs that may at times contrast with standard medical guidelines. Here, it might also be appropriate to tailor treatment plans to the needs of the individual patient in line with their particular situation and also to thoroughly explain the reasons for certain decisions.
One other aspect that is being awarded increasing prominence is that of spiritual care – where health professionals take the time to discuss the importance of personal beliefs and religious views with patients. This area is particularly relevant in situations where the patient is facing a highly-distressing situation, such as a terminal illness or the loss of a loved one, where spiritual support can be extremely important. Of course, the FNP is not usually required to provide spiritual care themselves. Instead, their task is usually to assist the patient in finding any help they might need.
Negotiating The Sea Of Information
Naturally, for any nurse practitioner who would like to promote a healthy lifestyle and alternative therapies, the right education and preparation are absolutely essential. Prescribing the right medical treatment is, of course, an extremely difficult process where it is easy to make the wrong decision. But at least in this area, medical professionals are almost always able to rely on evidence-based studies and pre-approval by the authorities.
Even if our knowledge is becoming ever more sophisticated, there is also uncertainty and, in some cases, misinformation. This is why it is vital for FNPs to only offer advice and suggestions when they are sure that it is the right thing to do. As qualified nurse practitioners, FNPs will have completed many years of training; beyond graduation, FNPs will also rely on their experience in their job and the assistance of their colleagues, while lifelong learning also plays a crucial role.
Another String In The Bow
FNPs offer patients not only primary healthcare and medical assistance but also a more holistic approach to their health and make adjustments to their lifestyles. By doing so, they can help patients enjoy an even better chance of improving or maintaining their health.
Naturally, it takes patience, training, and skill to negotiate the array of options available. The best FNPs are capable of comprehending and placing into context complex spiritual and cultural aspects that may influence the patient’s relationship to care. This may seem like a huge challenge, but the FNP capable of achieving this will ensure their patients enjoy a positive contribution and hopefully achieve the best possible outcome for their health.