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Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced training. In the United States, this usually involves graduate-level classes plus additional clinical instruction in techniques of diagnosing and treating illness. Although nurse practitioners are most often employed in the primary care setting, other nurse practitioner jobs include working in acute care, mental health, and women’s health.
In primary care, nurse practitioner jobs can be located within many different types of practice areas. For example, some nurse practitioners work within family health clinics, seeing both adult and pediatric patients, providing check-ups and preventative care as well as treating patients for acute illness or other minor emergencies. Other primary care nurse practitioner jobs take place within a practice setting called a nurse-managed health center. Nurse-managed health centers employ only nurse practitioners, rather than medical doctors or physicians’ assistants, to provide primary care. Nurse-managed health centers are usually located in medically underserved areas and often provide mental health care alongside physical care, using a collaborative model.
Other primary care nurse practitioner jobs can be found in geriatric clinics. In geriatric clinics, nurse practitioners provide well care for older adults, as well as manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis. Often nurse practitioner jobs in this type of situation involve some degree of case management, coordinating care among a patient’s many different healthcare providers.
Another nurse practitioner job is working in an acute care setting such as a hospital. Nurse practitioners in these roles assess and diagnosis hospitalized patients, order tests and medications as needed, and help determine discharge dates. In a teaching hospital, acute care nurse practitioners are often involved in teaching, especially teaching new doctors in their first year of residency.
Nurse practitioners involved in mental healthcare may work in an inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization setting. They assess and diagnose patients and prescribe medication as needed. Compliance with a medication regimen after discharge can often be a problem for patients receiving mental healthcare. For this reason, nurse practitioner jobs in this area sometimes involve providing a great deal of patient teaching about how to manage side effects, how to use other self-help tools to manage symptoms, and how to find community support.
When working in women’s health, nurse practitioners provide female wellness care. This includes such tasks as conducting pelvic exams and medical breast exams, as well as counseling about birth control and sexually transmitted infections. Some women’s health nurse practitioners receive further training to become certified nurse midwives. Certified nurse midwives are able to provide prenatal and postnatal care as well as independently assist women with uncomplicated pregnancies through the labor and delivery process.