Nurse Practitioner Defined
What does a nurse practitioner (NP) do? This is a point of confusion for many patients. Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) deliver a wide range of acute (walk-in things like colds, ear infections, lacerations, etc.), chronic (like high blood pressure, diabetes, Coumadin therapy, etc.) and preventative medical care services. We assess patients of all ages. We diagnose and treat common and/or acute health problems. We emphasize health promotion and disease prevention in our care. We provide individual and community education. We prescribe and manage a wide variety of medications. We order labwork and interpret the results. We order x-rays and other diagnostic testing, utilizing our regional resources in the interpretation of those studies. When your healthcare needs are beyond our abilities, we collaborate with and refer to appropriate local, regional, state and national specialists. To put it simply, our goal is to be the hub of your healthcare; to know your medical history and needs better than anyone, and to guide your healthcare to its optimal level.
A Nurse Practitioner’s scope of practice is generally defined within the specialty that their graduate schooling provided. There are numerous specialties, including: Family, Adult, Acute Care, Pediatric, Geriatric, Oncology, Neonatal, Psychiatric and Women’s Health. Carmen and Valerie are both Family Nurse Practitioners. Beyond that general definition, each state’s Board of Nursing more specifically defines the NP’s scope of practice. In Montana, we are independent practitioners, meaning we are not required to practice under the direct supervision of a physician. The Montana State Board of Nursing issues state laws and administrative rules regarding NP practice. A NP must have graduate education (Master’s) and be board certified. Certification is offered to graduates of approved Master’s and Post-Master’s level adult and family nurse practitioner programs. Carmen and Valerie are both graduates of the Montana State University College of Nursing Master’s Program and are Nationally Certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The National Certification Examinations are competency-based examinations for adult and family nurse practitioners reflective of nurse practitioner knowledge and expertise for each of these specialties. Montana licenses are renewed biennially. Forty (40) hours of continuing education credits (CEUs) are required for each renewal period.
The following links may be helpful in understanding our role:
• What is a Nurse Practitioner? Montana State University
• Nurse Practitioners: Meeting the Needs of Patients
• Why chose a Nurse Practitioner as your healthcare provider?
• What’s the difference between a Doctor and a Nurse Practitioner?