Nurse practitioners are front-line care providers helping patients cope with their health issues moving through the healthcare system and associated processes. Nurses have start playing a more prominent role globally and in the United States, although not all states have equal policies regarding the empowerment of these professionals. Florida can be seen as one of the states where the scope of practice of nurses is rather wide, enabling these practitioners to provide high-quality services and cater to the needs of patients, as well as the entire community. The value of nurses’ care has become evident in the times of the pandemic of COVID-19, which unveiled the vulnerability of the healthcare system in the United States (and globally) and the commitment of the medical staff. This paper includes a description of the scope of practice of acute care nurse practitioners (ACNP).
First, ACNPs are licensed professionals who have the corresponding certification and licensure. These professionals have to complete programs and have to be competent in a set of areas and have an established number of clinical hours. ACPNs provide care to patients who are physiologically unstable, critically ill, prone to complications, having chronic illnesses, and/or technologically dependent. When treating patients with chronic illnesses (for example, such conditions as asthma or diabetes), ACNPs often provide care to patients with severe symptoms or those who are unstable physically. The major goal of an ACNPs is to stabilize patients and ensure their safe transfer to the further level of care.
ACNPs can work with different populations, including children, adults, and the elderly. These practitioners work in acute care units, emergency rooms, trauma units, and such specialty wards as neurological units. ACNPs may work independently (to a certain extent) and in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, including but not confined to physicians, other nurse practitioners, social workers, physical therapists, and nutritionists. ACNPs evaluate patients’ condition, participate in the development of treatment plans, conduct diverse clinical procedures, communicate with patients and their families, provide training to patients, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. Some of the activities performed by ACNPs on a daily basis include the provision of physical examination, screening, as well as health assessments, ordering, performing, and interpreting laboratory and imaging tests, handling medical equipment, and making the necessary referrals for patients. ACNPs also make the corresponding records and make sure that all major details are included in patients’ histories. These specialists coordinate the provision of care and ensure that patients’ needs are met. Although clinical aspects are central to the acute care setting, ACNPs pay attention to such areas as patients’ mental and emotional states.
These healthcare practitioners are also responsible for the constant improvement of patients’ outcomes and the quality of the provided services. As any other healthcare practitioners, ACNPs have to adhere to the existing safety guidelines to prevent hospital-acquired infections or injuries in patients. ACNPs tend to become advocates for patients’ unmet needs in a particular facility, community, or on other levels. These healthcare professionals contribute to the development of guidelines and policies aimed at improving provided care. Importantly, these initiatives are patient-centered as ACNPs are well-aware of patients’ needs and expectations and try to translate these into particular procedures.
ACNP perform leadership roles, which is especially apparent during the period of a disaster (such as natural disasters, epidemics, and so on). ACNPs are central figures in addressing patients’ needs in the period of epidemics or pandemics. These professionals take an active part in providing care and managing resources that become scarce in the time of crisis. For instance, during the past two years, nurses had to complete diverse tasks and make various critical decisions. During the onset of the pandemic, nurses even had to prioritize and decide what patients would be treated in the first place and what resources would be needed and provided. Although protocols have been developed, ACNPs still face numerous challenges related to the provision of care due to the emergence of new strains of COVID-19 (Thusini, 2020). The number of patients is still excessive, and ACNPs are overloaded with tasks, which makes such competencies as time and stress management critical. Nursing professionals provide psychological and emotional support to people who often feel desperate or disoriented.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that acute care nurse practitioners provide care to patients with acute conditions. Their major goal is to stabilize patients and ensure their safe and timely transfer to another level of care. ACNPs implement different types of clinical procedures, collaborate with other healthcare professionals, communicate with patients and their families, provide educational services, and contribute to the improvement of care. These professionals have to address numerous issues on a daily basis, including but not confined to long shifts, overload, time pressure, conflicts, and the lack of resources. Such abilities and skills as resilience, time management, and multitasking are critical for these practitioners. ACNPs help patients in some of the most urgent situations, so this profession is challenging and demanding but rewarding as well.
Thusini, S. (2020). Critical care nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic: A story of resilience. British Journal of Nursing, 29(21), 1232-1236.