Nurse Practitioner Specialty Certifications Assessment

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Nurse Practitioner Specialty Certifications

An adult Nurse Practitioner is far more specialized than a "standard" nurse (i.e. An LPN or an RN). Nurse practitioners are also called Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), and have completed nursing education at a graduate level (International, 2012). They have either Masters or Doctorate degrees in their field and often treat both physical and mental health issues. Diseases can be diagnosed by NPs, and they can also prescribe some medications as well as taking extensive medical histories and requesting tests. Adult nurse practitioners have to meet the education and licensing requirements of registered nurses, and they also have to have the clinical experience to qualify for the RN title (International, 2012). From that point they move on to the graduate-level work of a nurse practitioner program. They can go for either the Masters or Doctorate degree, and either one can qualify them for the NP designation. Then they go on to take the national board certification in the specialty area they have chosen, such as adult (Flanagan, 1997).

Education and Training

If the nurse was only trained at the diploma level or only at the associate degree level, a bachelor of science is necessary at first, or there are also bridge programs where the nurse can work toward a bachelor's degree while simultaneously working toward his or her Masters or Doctoral degree (Horrocks, Anderson, & Salisbury, 2002). Those programs work well for nurses that do not already have their bachelor's degree, but they are not offered everywhere. Schools can also really vary based on what they offer for nurses at any level and what they require in order to get licensing and certification. With that in mind, both Auburn and the University of Alabama have nursing schools, as does Jacksonville University School of Nursing, University of Florida, and several other Alabama and Florida schools. Some community colleges in the two states also have nursing programs, but a person would not be able to get to a high enough level of education at a community college to get an NP designation. These smaller colleges are designed for associate degrees and diplomas, but not for bachelors' degrees and beyond.

Licensing and Planning

The main issue with licensing is that the plan for an NP is very similar no matter which specialty a person chooses. The educational requirements are the same, the experience levels are still required, and the licensing issues are also the same. The only discrepancy is that the licensing questions for the specialty will be particular to that specialty. With that in mind, it would not make sense to rehash the same information for each and every specialty, because it is the same from educational and experience standpoints. However, there are two places where things are different. The role (and its importance) in the healthcare environment, and which southern universities offer which specialties. Both of those areas can be explored as they relate to each specialty. The Adult Nurse Practitioner designation has already been somewhat addressed. This specialty is highly significant, but it is also one of the most generalized in that it largely encompasses everyone who is not a child.

Specialty Significance

Another specialty is the Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The importance of this specialty is growing, because there is less of a stigma surrounding mental health today than there was in the past (Lenz, et al., 2004). Since that is the case, it is possible for a person to seek out treatment for mental health issues instead of just ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away, or just dealing with it because it is "weak" to admit to any kind of mental health difficulty. With more people looking to be treated for mental health problems and more medical professionals taking an interest in treating people for mental health, it is only natural that nurse practitioners would become more interested in a specialty that would allow them to focus on mental instead of physical concerns.

A family nurse practitioner is similar to a family doctor in that he or she is able to see all kinds of patients for a variety of reasons (Mundinger, 2000). These NPs are similar to GPs, but they are still somewhat limited with what they can do when compared with doctors. Even knowing that, however, many NPs choose the family specialty because it allows them to do a lot of different things and see all kinds of different patients (Mundinger, 2000). They are not focused on just one kind of patient, and that can keep them interested in their work and also feeling challenged and excited about what they do. When an NP loses that desire to help others, he or she loses a lot of what makes his or her career so valuable. That can be avoided, though, when NPs are very honest with themselves from the start and when they are very clear on what they want to do with their careers from a long-term standpoint.

A family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner does essentially the same job as any other mental health practitioner with an NP designation, but these individuals are also more likely to engage in family therapy options. Having a family therapist is a great way for a couple and their children to focus on what really matters and to learn to get along better and work through any issues they may have (Horrocks, Anderson, & Salisbury, 2002; Mundinger, 2000). If an NP can help them, they may be able to pay a bit less than they would pay if they chose to see a psychiatrist. With that in mind, an NP can have a lucrative and rewarding career in the mental health field and be able to help many families with the issues they have with one another and the outside world (Mundinger, 2000). That is good news for anyone who needs help with family issues, and is also good news for NPs who are interested in getting into the mental health field. There is certainly room for them next to psychiatrists and psychologists in helping people.

The Gerontological Nurse Practitioner is one who focuses on the elderly population (Horrocks, Anderson, & Salisbury, 2002). This particular specialty is vital at this time in history because there are so many individuals who are "baby boomers" and who are aging and needing more medical care. Some of them really cannot afford to get the best medical care, because Medicare does not always pay for everything they would really want and need when it comes to tests, medication, and procedures. Since that is the case, and since there are so many more people coming into retirement age virtually all at once, there is a real need for more medical practitioners who can and will listen to the needs of the elderly and the aging population. When an NP focuses on gerontology, he or she is much better equipped to handle a larger volume of patients. Those patients will also appreciate what an NP has to offer, because NPs often charge less than doctors and can do nearly as much. Some of them are also more knowledgeable in their specialties than doctors, and that can add to the value of what they provide to patients (Flanagan, 1997; Mundinger, 2000).

An Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner is also a valuable specialty. These NPs focus on getting a person back to full functioning after an accident or medical event that harms that person's ability to perform an occupation and everyday life tasks (Lenz, et al., 2004). This kind of therapy is often coupled with physical therapy, but does not have to be. There are many different options for types of occupational therapy, as well, which means that individuals can accomplish more and focus on what really works for them. An NP that specializes in occupational health is one who is able to ensure that his or her patients get what they really need and want in order to develop productive lives centered around their careers and their families. Anyone who has struggled with work or family life after an illness or injury knows that they need to have a good therapist in order to get through the physical and mental issues that appear when damage has been done to the human body.

There are also Emergency Nurse Practitioners. They are along the lines of EMTs, paramedics, and others who work with emergency services and situations (Lenz, et al., 2004; Mundinger, 2000). No matter what the problem may be, these individuals are the ones on the front lines and the ones who are there to help people at some of the most frightening and difficult times in their lives. By keeping that in mind, NPs who choose this specialty must be mentally and physically prepared for everything they will want and need to do in order to be sure that they give the most to their clients. Being prepared can be difficult, because it requires… [END OF PREVIEW]

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