Scope of Practice
The nurse practitioners’ (NPs) scope of practice follows the description of who, what, where, when, and why regarding the nursing profession at the fundamental and advanced levels (Naylor, & Kurtzman, 2010). The scope may also advance based on different specialties within the nursing practice. The nursing professionals have a duty to offer a well-defined and described scope of practice to the public.
Registered nurses have a professional role to play; they must have educational qualifications relevant to their specialty, they must be accountable, and they need to exhibit responsible thinking and behavior at all times. A nurse practitioner must ask whether an intended behavior is within the scope of practice of a nurse practitioner, which can include privileges provided for a particular specialty of nurse practitioners (Buckley, Cashin, Stuart, Browne, & Dunn, 2013).
A nurse practitioner is a professional with a license and capabilities to work in ambulatory, acute, and long-term care. The NP offers primary and specialty care to individuals, families, and groups. The primary function of NPs is to promote health. The specialty provides specific capacities for dealing with acute episodic and chronic illnesses. An NP can be autonomous or work with other professionals to advocate for patients, research on health care matters, and perform duties as interdisciplinary consultants (Gardner, Gardner, & Proctor, 2004).
To become a nurse practitioner, one has to meet licensing requirements. This includes the attainment of education credentials relevant to the position of a registered nurse and any other specialty that an NP covers. The primary qualification is a graduate degree for the general NP, while specialists also have master’s certificates and doctoral degrees in their respective practicing fields. Specialty knowledge comes from the acquisition of didactic and clinical course qualifications (Buckley et al., 2013). Qualified NPs can offer services in primary care, acute care, and long-term care in both small and large-scale organizational settings. Besides formal education, NPs are also committed to self-directed learning. They take part in professional development initiatives offered by their institutions and nursing associations.
Accountability is critical for an NP to maintain the integrity of service without supervisory oversight. As a profession, NP practice relies on several accountability instruments. There is an overview of health care outcomes, use of national certification, and periodic peer review exercise that will sustain a professional service behavior by an NP (Gardner et al., 2004). Besides, there are clinical outcome evaluations and usage of a code of ethical practice, all meant to provide guidelines, sustain an attitude of accountability, and limit the abuse of privileges by NPs. Moreover, NPs must grow professionally by continuing with professional development and maintaining their clinical skills. They have to keep searching for and sharing information that has a positive impact on their individual and collective practice with the main purpose being the improvement of health care or increase in positive clinical outcomes in their practice. In this regard, accountability is enhanced by taking part in professional and lay health forums and the use of research practice and research findings in clinical practice (Naylor, & Kurtzman, 2010).
Overall, NPs’ roles are evolving to cater to changes in society and societal health needs. Thus, NPs have to combine the various skills and roles in providing, mentoring, educating, researching, and administering health care with the emphasis being on the management and advancement of the NP work in different capacities they handle in society. Part of the mechanism used to stay responsible is by being members of professional organizations (Naylor, & Kurtzman, 2010). They also take part in the formulation and implementation of health policy at all administrative levels.
Buckley, T., Cashin, A., Stuart, M., Browne, G., & Dunn, S. V. (2013). Nurse practitioner prescribing practices: the most frequently prescribed medications. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22(13/14), 2053-2063.
Gardner, G., Gardner, A., & Proctor, M. (2004). Nurse practitioner education: a research-based curriculum structure. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 47(2), 143-152.
Naylor, M. D., & Kurtzman, E. T. (2010). The role of nurse practitioners in reinventing primary care. Health Affairs, 29(5), 893-899.