The people of America are changing in a number of different ways; they’re getting larger, grayer, and more medicated. But thankfully, the number of people taking out health insurance is on the rise. Thanks to the expansion of Medicaid (healthcare insurance for people on a low income) we expect to see this continuing. Medicaid numbers are expected to increase by 11 million people each year until 2024.
This might sound like fantastic news (and it is in one way) but the question has to be who’ll look after all of these extra people? There’s no way to predict how doctors will respond to this huge increase in demand. Some people think that there will be restrictions put in place on what services can be accessed. Others believe that doctors will refuse to see new Medicaid patients. Another theory is that doctors will assign basic or routine tasks to a physician’s assistant or nurse, thereby giving themselves more time to focus on more complicated work.
According to a number of surveys, it looks like the third option might be correct. Many nurses are training as family nurse practitioners to fill the void left over by the lack of doctors. Keep reading below to find out more about what a family nurse practitioner can do and why you should take your child to see one if they’re poorly.
What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Just like doctors, family nurse practitioners give their patients comprehensive, lifelong care through health education, disease management, and preventative health services. Family nurse practitioners have been looking after communities and patients for more than 40 years. These nurses:
- Spend time with their patients
- Treat common illnesses
- Listen to descriptions of symptoms
- Can order tests and evaluate the results
- Give you advice on keeping yourself and your children healthy
- Can prescribe medication
- Can treat acute and chronic conditions
- Will offer counseling, support, and advice
- Look after you during pregnancy (including providing preconception and prenatal care)
FNPs often work alongside other healthcare professionals to manage their patient’s condition and look after them throughout their lifetime. Because of their experience and a broad knowledge base, FNPs can be found in a number of settings including:
- Physicians’ offices
- Health departments
- Ambulatory care facilities
- Community clinics
They are the perfect choice of the practitioner to take your child to see if you have any concerns.
Are Family Nurse Practitioners Qualified to Take Care of My Child?
The simple answer is yes. Family nurse practitioners have to hold an RN license, a state license, and be nationally certified to be able to practice as a registered nurse.
To get the correct certification, nurses will have had to have completed a minimum of a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) an Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) program. Most family nurse practitioners choose to undertake one of these accredited online nurse practitioner programs. These programs teach students the skills they need to be independent caregivers and how to look after their patients effectively. This all helps to make them the perfect choice of professionals to take your child to when they are poorly or you need advice.
Why You Should Visit a Family Nurse Practitioner Instead of a Doctor?
In the U.S. there are over 3.1 million nurses. Nurses make up approximately 70% of employees in a hospital. Nurse practitioners are highly qualified and knowledgeable individuals. They will have attained at least a master’s degree in nursing before qualifying as a nurse practitioner. Additionally, these nurses have to be licensed to provide patients with care which is consistent with their specialist expertise.
Today there are 141,000 nurse practitioners in the U.S. and they have a huge impact on the healthcare system. They work in public and private practices, workplaces, schools, and may work independently or alongside other professionals. In most states across the US, nurse practitioners take the lead in newer forms of care delivery. Here are some of the reasons you should visit a nurse practitioner:
- There is an increasing number of nurse practitioners and a decreasing number of doctors in the US – doctors are retiring, the population is living longer and fewer medical students are choosing to go into primary care in the US. Nurse practitioners help to fill the gap in primary care by helping doctors to look after their patients. They can diagnose and treat just like a doctor and will ask for advice from other professionals if they need it.
- They are qualified – evidence has shown that in terms of mortality and satisfaction of patients, the care given by a nurse practitioner is as good as the care given by a physician.
- It’s cheaper to visit a family nurse practitioner – nobody wants to spend money if they don’t have to. If you’re visiting the doctor for something small, then it might be an idea to save yourself some money and visit a nurse practitioner instead.
- They listen – when we visit a doctor, we often find that they’re too busy to spend time listening to what we have to say. Nurse practitioners, on the other hand, will listen to you and help you deal with any worries or concerns you may have. They have more time for their patients and will ask for advice from other professionals if they feel it’s needed.
- Loved by patients – evidence has shown that people feel more satisfied when they’ve visited a nurse practitioner than they do when they’ve visited a doctor. Many patients find it hard talking to a physician, particularly in busy practices, but patients find it easier to bond with a family nurse practitioner.
Family nurse practitioners are versatile, competent, and well-suited for filling gaps in the health care system. They are brilliant at coordinating patient care and looking after patients. The next time you or your child need to visit a health care professional, why not consider paying a visit to your local family nurse practitioner? You never know, you may prefer it.