NP first became part of Canadian nursing profession in the 1960s. Earlier on NPs were providers of care in rural areas. By 1970s, the number of people with interest in becoming NPs increased. It is the time who more education programs began to teach nurse on how they will fit the role. Today nurses have become an integral part of health care system.

Nurse practitioners now work in a various health care settings. Some of the facilities you can find NPs include:

Hospitals: Outpatient clinics, emergency rooms or other patient areas
Community care: Health-care centers, community clinics, physician offices and homes of patients
Long-term care: Nursing homes
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NP-led clinics

The additional education and experience that nurse practitioners have to enable them to do the following:

Diagnose and treat without supervision
Order tests and interpret them
Prescribe medication
Perform some medical procedures
NPs bring their comprehensive medical knowledge together with their extensive skills and values to healthcare.

NPs treat the whole person following an approach than includes:

Gathering medical history
Address needs relating to physical and mental health
Focus on effects of illness to the patient and family
Offer advice to patients on how to lead healthy life
Teach the sick on ways to manage their chronic illness
NPs can provide numerous direct care services to patients at each stage of life. On top of treatment, they train individuals on how to live healthier lives to manage illnesses and prevent disease. An NP can also be an educator and researcher who can serve as a consultant to other members of healthcare team. They are also leaders and researchers who integrate new knowledge into nursing practice.

The above responsibilities of nurses are common to all NPs, but there is an option to specialize. There are various specialties for Nursing Practitioners such as pediatrics, primary care, psychiatric, oncology or geriatrics among others.

Psychiatric NPs usually are Ph.D. holders. They can act as therapists and prescribe appropriate medications. Although they do not have the authority to conduct psychological tests, they work with psychologists and psychiatrists to regularly review test results and determine the right course of action.

Do Nursing Practitioners replace physicians?

NPs are not a replacement to healthcare providers but work with them to complement their job. They are an integral part of collaborative teams including nurses, social workers, doctors and others in the service of attending to patients. When you consult an NP, you may still see a family physician or another health-care provider.

Benefits that NPs provide to Canadians

Nurse practitioners add value to the Canadians and the health care system. A study on patients about their experiences with NPs shows that they benefit in similar ways:

Patient involvement in decisions about their care thus increasing their trust on medics
Improved access to the primary health care
Reduced pressure on health-care system as it does not solely rely on doctors
High-quality management of the chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes
Regions where nurse practitioners work

Nurse practitioners can work in every territory and province in Canada as all have legislations on NP practice. Canada has around 5,000 NPs. The highest number is in Ontario. Nurse Practitioner to person ratio is lowest in Nunavut and Northwest Territories.