BY OMOLOLA ADAMS OLATAYO (RN, RM, RPHN, HEALTH&HOSPITAL MGT (CERTIFIED), BNSC,)
Nursing is as old as mankind. The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well in the performance of those activities contributing to health, or its recovery that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary will or knowledge. And to do such in a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible (Henderson, 1966).
Nursing as profession came into existence, rested, savored, and consolidated its position by developing its own language, rituals, ethics, arts, and sciences from the physical needs of patients, the principles and concepts of prevention, it’s own body of traditions, attitudes, culture and values which are mainly drawn from the army and religious orders. High discipline with stern reprimand formed the foundations of the profession and developed with it. (Ajibade 2012).
Whether from the global or local perspective, Nursing profession has come a long way. It has evolved from the inevitable state of low credibility and respectability to that of a relatively stable and emerging professional discipline. It started from the period of intuitive nursing when nursing was practised within the milieu of magico-religious beliefs, when there was no training of any kind; a period when nursing activities were performed by men and women using thier nurturing qualities (Ajao 2016).
Nursing is defined as science and art of life which is evidence – based practice profession that is built upon a desired goal in attaining maximal health status of a client well or sick (Omolola 2014). It encompasses the holistic care given as requested by the client ranging from clinical based disorder to psychological, economical, emotional, spiritual, and environmental and community care (Omolola 2015).
Nursing in Africa is not different from its counterpart around the globe in education andd practice, thus need to evolve as the global trends moved. A lot has been happening in the world of nursing profession. One of the green areas that have not been tapped in Africa is NURSE PRACTITIONER (Omolola 2015).
Therefore there is need to key into such area of specialization as its importance is numerous. Nursing profession is evolving as the technology is developing. Many ailments are emerging and need to increase in the research input, this will keep the practitioner abreast and able to combat the challenges of such ailment.
Mayo clinic (2015) stated that Nursing is the largest health care occupation with more than 2 million jobs. Overall, it’s one of the 10 occupations projected to have the largest numbers of new jobs. Nurse practitioners are in high demand to provide health promotion, health maintenance and sick care services.
A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practitioner registered nurse (APRN) who has completed advanced coursework and clinical education beyond that required of the generalist registered nurse (RN) role. According to the International Council of Nurses, an NP/advanced practice registered nurse is “a registered nurse who has acquired the knowledge base, decision-making skills, and clinical competencies for expanded practice beyond that of an RN, the characteristics of which would be determined by the context in which he or she is credentialed to practice. (Wikipedia)
They perform comprehensive and focused physical examinations; diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries; provide immunizations; manage high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and other chronic health problems; order and interpret diagnostic tests such as X-rays and EKGs, as well as laboratory tests; prescribe medications and therapies; perform procedures; and educate and counsel patients and their families regarding healthy lifestyles and health care options (explorehealthcareer.org).
According to money.usnews.com Nurse practitioners’ array of qualifications, and the fact they can work independently of doctors to treat patients, makes this No. 4 job on our Best Jobs of 2014 list an attractive career choice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 37,100 new positions for this field between 2012 and 2022, growing at a rate of 33.7 percent. NPs provide primary and some acute care and are qualified to meet the majority of patients’ health care needs. They promote a comprehensive approach to health care and emphasize the overall health and wellness of their patients.
Two predominant categories of the APN are identified:
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), defined as a person having a qualification in the area of specializing, in-depth knowledge and expertise that enables her/him to focus on facility care and work closely with medical officers on a consultative basis.
Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP), defined as a person who focuses on primary care, health assessment, diagnosis and treatment. This category can work with medical officers on a referral basis. In South Africa, this category is closer to Primary Health Care (PHC) nurse and at time the midwife, psychiatric and paediatric nurse working outside the formal hospital environment.
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who are prepared through advanced education and clinical training to provide preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. Today, most NPs complete graduate-level education that leads to a master’s degree. They work independently and collaboratively on the health care team. NPs take health histories and provide complete physical examinations, diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems, interpret laboratory results and X-rays, prescribe and manage medications and other therapies, provide health teaching and counseling to support healthy lifestyle behaviors and prevent illness, and refer patients to other health professionals as needed. (mayo clinic)
Highlighted below are some of the responsibilities of a nurse practitioner in her line of duty. According to healthcaresalaryworld.com;
- Carry out physical exam and record the health history of patients
- Give basic healthcare treatment
- Write prescription and order for medical tests
- Conduct counseling session for the elderly patients and their family members (geriatric nurse practitioners)
- Help the physician in deciding on the right treatment option for the patients
- Educate cancer patients on how to manage their life (oncology nurse practitioners)
- Help psychiatrists and psychologists in reviewing the condition of the patients and determining the right treatment option for them (psychiatric nurse practitioner)
- Thus, nurse practitioner is found in all area of specialty in nursing such medical nurse practitioner, community nurse practitioner, public health nurse practitioner, paediatric nurse practitioner, midwife practitioner, family nurse practitioner, etc.
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Before one becomes a licensed nurse practitioner, they have to undergo traditional schooling in nursing school, graduate, complete a review, then take and pass the nursing qualifying examination. Upon getting licensed as a Registered Nurse, they are required to work or practice their profession for at least a year before enrolling for a master’s degree program in Nursing. The field of specializations these nurses usually study for are epidemiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, diagnostics, radiography, disease management and research methodologies. Master’s degree may take anywhere from 2 to 4 years of additional education.
There are many specialties a nurse can decide to be a practitioner in. A Family Nurse Practitioner specializes in the treatment and diagnoses of patients in a wide age range, from childhood to the elderly. People drawn to this specialty are life-long learners who seek more responsibility and independence in their career. They find professional satisfaction in evaluating and treating patients and pay special attention to the family unit. Family nurse practitioners are equipped to work in hospitals, private practice, government organizations, community health organizations, and other health care systems. (nursingonline.uc.edu)
As nursing is evolving around the globe, nursing in Africa should not be left behind rather should be able to compete with its counterpart around the world. Nursing is a dynamic profession that is research driven to be able to meet up with global needs. As the world moved technologically nursing cannot be in isolation. It’s essential to incorporate the new technology into nursing profession which is happening in the world. It’s very much unfortunate that government hospitals in Africa are ill-equipped, how then will the nurses be technologically endowed (Omolola 2015).
The nursing and midwifery council of Nigeria in conjunction with ministry of health with support of stakeholders should form a policy that will enhance the establishment of nurse practitioner program with a concrete and comprehensive policy formulation. The curriculum should be well stipulated and designed with input of seasoned practitioner around the world and seasoned academician. This program should be at master level as earlier highlighted. This program should be seen as an avenue to increase the capacity of health sector which will transcend upon the client with positive influence; it will eliminate excessive waiting time and provide prompt attention to client and reduce workload on medical doctor. All professionals involved in this scheme should provide a maximal support as seen as effective tool in enhancing a healthy health sector. Rivalry and ego may likely be a factor that will undermine the process. If Nigeria health sector should swipe off the current reality in health sector, the sector shall remain in shamble and be cocked up. Based on my findings (unpublished), only South Africa has adopted the specialty into its health system, and has been successful. Then why can’t other Africa country adopt it.
Ajao, E. O. (2016). Nursing on the move: consolidating and harnessing the gains for clinical excellence. Paper presented at 11th Inaugral Lecture. Babcock University Ilishan – Remo, Ogun state. May 5
Ajibade, B. L. (2012). Nursing in Nigeria: The journey so far and way forward. A paper presented at the 6th Biennial and 5th Quadrennial Delegate Conference Organised by the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives. Garland Cultural Center, Yenagoa. November 21.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_practitioner Retrieved 10 December, 2014
explorehealthcareers.org › Careers › Nursing Retrieved 23 November, 2014
money.usnews.com/careers/…/nurse-practitio… Retrieved 5/1/2016
nursingonline.uc.edu › Nursing Specialties › Family Nurse Practitioner Retrieved 12/12/2015
Omolola A. O (2014). Nurse Practitioner : An untapped Area of Specialization in Nigeria. www.Omololaadams.blogspot.com Retrieved 22/4/2016
www.aanp.org Retrieved 26 November 2014
www.healthcaresalaryworld.com/nurse-practitioner-job-description Retrieved 7 October 2014
www.mayo.edu › Home › Academics Retrieved January 1, 2015
www.sanc.co.za/position_advanced_practice_nursing Retrieved January 1, 2015