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FAQs: What is a Nurse Practitioner? Should I see a Nurse Practitioner? Should I become a Nurse Pract

Even though Nurse Practitioners have been around for decades many people haven't heard of them and aren't quite sure what they do.

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about my career and practice from both clients and other health care professionals.

1. What is a Nurse Practitioner?

I am an experienced Registered Nurse who has completed additional Master’s level education and passed rigorous testing to become a Nurse Practitioner.

2. What do Nurse Practitioners do?

Nurse Practitioners assess, diagnose, prescribe and order diagnostic testing. They also perform a number of small procedures. Depending on their experience and education they specialize in different areas and can offer different treatments and services.

I am a Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner. I see patients of all ages from newborns to seniors. As a Nurse Practitioner I blend both medical and evidence based complimentary treatments for a wholistic plan of care. I use a wellness focused approach aimed at optimizing health, preventing disease, and promoting longevity.

3. Where do Nurse Practitioners work?

Nurse Practitioners work in independent practice, family practice, urgent are clinics, long-term care homes, mental health facilities and hospitals. They also participate in education, research, health care systems development, community initiatives, and leadership.

As a professionally incorporated Nurse Practitioner I work in several specialty areas including Geriatrics, Corporate Executive Health, Health Coaching and consulting.

4. How are Nurse Practitioners different from a Doctors, Physician Assistants or Naturopaths?

Each profession compliments each other by offering value to patients and health care systems. None is better than the other. Instead, there is a place and time for each.

For example, if you needed heart surgery you would see a Cardiac Surgeon for the procedure, but you may see a Nurse Practitioner for post-operative care and recovery.

5. When do I see the doctor?

Before a visit with me in my interdisciplinary practice where patients are used to seeing a doctor for all of their visits, they will ask when the doctor will see them. I explain that, similar to a doctor, I can assess, diagnose, prescribe and order tests independently. I also explain I consult physicians or refer to specialists for anything outside of my scope of practice (areas of expertise). By the end of most visits, my patients are satisfied and they leave the office without feeling the need to see a physician.

6. Should I become a Nurse Practitioner?

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner is a big investment with increased risk and responsibility. Whenever I'm asked about the choice to become a Nurse Practitioner, I advise nurses as if they had asked me for any other career advice.

The first is your “why” for becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Is it the title and prestige? To be more autonomous? To quit working shift work? To make a bigger difference in the lives of patients? To earn a bigger pay cheque?

Then, to explore interests inside and outside of the nursing profession because most nurses need to expand their horizons when considering career moves. For example, inside the nursing profession: education, management, medicine, intensive care, emergency, surgical, long term care, nursing entrepreneurship. Outside of the profession: photography, culinary arts, fitness, clowning and so on. Could your interests be combined to impact your patients? Nurse Clowns exist and bring happiness to many!

If after thorough consideration becoming a Nurse Practitioner is what will drive you and feed you soul, then becoming a Nurse Practitioner will be for you.

What questions do you have about Nurse Practitioners?

Leave a comment in the space below or send me a message on the home page!

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