Preventive care: Understanding the role of family nurse practitioners

Research shows that there’s a growing demand for primary care. Reports indicate that 1.2 million registered nurses will be required to address the current shortage. Fortunately, family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are stepping in to address this shortage.

Family nurse practitioners play a critical role in providing primary and preventive care. Previously, FNPs functioned as an extension of doctors. However, their role has evolved. Advanced practice registered nurses now work alongside other healthcare professionals. Providers or alone to provide specialty care services.

There’s a lot more that a family nurse practitioner does in preventive care. Read on as we delve deeper into how these care providers bridge the gap in healthcare access by providing preventive care.

What is the role of family nurse practitioners in preventive care?

Family nurse practitioners are more than simply medical professionals. They act as advocates, educators, and a lot more. As a registered nurse looking to advance your career, pursuing an online post-masters FNP program from a reputable institution like Carson-Newman University can give you a head start. It provides the advantage of learning from experienced nurse educators alongside convenient clinical site placement, and you can complete the course in two years or less.

Here’s a look at family nurse practitioners’ crucial role in preventive health.

Provide patient education

Apart from ordering and interpreting lab tests, giving a diagnosis, and managing treatment plans, FNPs also provide health information to patients. Disseminating essential health information acts as a preventive measure against certain illnesses.

Physicians education concentrates on diagnosis and treatment, while FNPs take a holistic approach to their training. By establishing a trusting and long-term relationship with patients, FNPs can talk to them about their nutrition, alcohol use, exercise, safe sex, and more. These health professionals deliver this information through written material, or they can have one-on-one sessions with patients.

In some cases, nursing practitioners can partner with faith-based groups, community centers, and more to provide information on screening, nutrition, and more.

Disseminating essential health information acts as a preventive measure against certain illnesses. For example, if a patient is at risk of type 2 diabetes, the FNP can advise them on the proper nutrition and exercises to prevent the condition. They explain things in simple terms to ensure that the patients clearly understand the risks and preventive measures they can take to slow down the disease progression.

Identify patients at high risk for some diseases

The secondary level of preventive care involves analyzing high-risk factors for different diseases through screening. FNPs work to identify patients who may be at risk for certain conditions by assessing their age, ethnicity, gender, and lifestyle.

They provide customized information to their patients to help them get better. They may also request screenings to detect disease early.

For example, a patient with a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure is considered an at-risk patient. An FNP will review a patient’s medical report and assess risk factors before requesting blood sugar tests and blood pressure levels. With their medical expertise and experience, these healthcare professionals can notice the anomalies and advise the patient to take precautionary measures like good nutrition and exercise to promote better health.

FNPs also work with older adults to provide preventive health guidance, as they’re at a higher risk for different chronic conditions.

Make health accessible through community outreach

Family nurse practitioners provide primary and preventive care in different settings than primary care physicians. They’re more likely to practice in rural settings and work with marginalized groups, uninsured patients, and others who wish to avoid hospitals.

You’ll find FNPs in rural urgent-care clinics, community health clinics, specialty clinics, college campuses, worksite health centers, and more. Being available in all these practice locations, FNPs make health accessible to everyone through community outreach. Patients can get health education and essential preventative services like immunizations, disease screenings, blood testing, and more.

By facilitating access to care, FNPs can connect patients to the services they need and provide counseling services.

Provide tertiary prevention to prevent disease progression

Family nurse practitioners also play a role in providing tertiary prevention to patients. The focus of tertiary prevention is to help individuals manage complex health issues like chronic diseases over time and minimize suffering. As qualified practitioners, FNPs seek to improve the patient’s quality of life even when dealing with permanent impairments.

These healthcare professionals facilitate chronic disease management programs, rehabilitation programs, support groups, and vocational programs that retain workers. All this is meant to reduce the impact of complications.

A good example is when an FNP works with a patient with diabetes to help prevent the disease from progressing to blindness. The medical professional provides prompt treatment to avoid further complications and restore function.

Advocate for policies that prioritize patients’ health

Family nurse practitioners also work behind the scenes to advocate for measures and policies that prioritize their patients’ health.

FNPs work to protect, promote, and preserve their patient’s well-being. They advocate for patients by connecting them to their needed resources, such as financial assistance, transportation, and other resources. These health professionals also take time to review and correct any errors that could be present in patient’s healthcare information. The review process can also help address any patient care oversights.

Advocacy also involves educating patients on improving their quality of life and managing health issues. FNPs discuss a diagnosis and available treatment options with patients and their families. They listen to their patients’ wishes and communicate them to others, which helps them protect patients’ rights to make informed choices about their health.

At an organizational level, FNPs also work with advocacy groups to raise awareness and provide a perspective on issues that patients and their families must deal with. They can advocate for patients at annual healthcare meetings, seminars, and conferences. FNPs sometimes write letters to different stakeholders in the health sector to encourage them to act and improve patient outcomes.

The future of family nurse practitioners

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are uniquely positioned to help people make informed health decisions. That ultimately leads to disease prevention and health promotion. The role of FNPs is expected to grow over the next decade to help curb the primary care shortage in the country. In the coming years, FNP’s role in preventive care will also increase in low-access and underserved areas, making them a valuable asset in the healthcare sector.

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