Celebrating nurse practitioners
What is the role of the nurse practitioner?
Figueroa: Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who deliver care to patients throughout the lifespan, from premature newborns to the elderly or geriatric population. NPs have a minimum of a master’s degree but many now have doctoral degrees.
As nurses, NP’s bring a holistic approach to practice, managing and addressing not only the patient, but also the entire environment that impacts the patient. They perform comprehensive and focused physical examinations; diagnose and treat common and complex acute illnesses and injuries; provide immunizations; manage diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and other chronic health problems; order and interpret diagnostic tests as well as laboratory tests; prescribe medications and therapies; perform procedures such as suturing and insertion of chest tubes; and educate and advise patients and their families regarding healthy lifestyles and health care options.
What resources are available to nurse practitioners to continue to expand their knowledge base after they have completed their education?
Figueroa: We are very proud to be a part of the North Central Florida Advanced Practice Network, which offers monthly advanced nursing educational meetings. This group comprises advanced practice nurses working in clinical practice across the region (including UF Health Shands facilities, the Malcom Randall Veteran Affairs Medical Center and private sector sites) as well as educators from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. We host a variety of expert presenters who discuss current evidence-based practices and innovative ideas applicable to our roles as advanced practice nurses. Members participate in a variety of local community events and serve as limitless networking resources. In addition, the group supports the community by volunteering in diverse events. As board members of this organization, we are delighted to have new student members who are currently pursuing their advanced practice nursing degrees.
Hays: NPs are eager to network and provide support for each other. There are several resources available at the state and national levels that offer ongoing education to their members. Some examples include the Florida Nurses Association and various national NP specialty organizations.
What role do nurse practitioners play in our local community?
Hays: Nurse practitioners play a valuable role in our local community, particularly meeting the health care needs of our most vulnerable patients. This is evident in the College of Nursing through Archer Family Health Care, our nurse-managed health center that provides care for those who have minimal access to services. Local NPs can be found in primary care centers, intensive care units, emergency departments, chronic care clinics and psychiatric facilities, to name a few.
To learn more about the North Central Florida Advanced Practice Network, visit their website at: