Why Are Advanced Practice Nurses So Important To The Healthcare System – (TOP 10 REASONS)
Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Advanced practice nurses are an essential part of the healthcare system. They are nurses who have continued with their education and have become experts in their field. Their role may include providing care to patients in a clinic, delivering anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery, or delivering a baby. Regardless of their exact role, advanced practice nurses have an exceptional reputation for providing high-quality care that leads to positive outcomes for the patient and the entire healthcare system.
So why are advanced practice nurses important to the healthcare system? Below, you will find ten reasons why advanced practice nurses are so important to the healthcare system.
WHAT DO ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES EXACTLY DO?
Advanced practice nurses (APRNs) have completed additional education, either a master’s or doctorate, beyond their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This additional education and training allows them to assess, diagnose and treat patients. They can also manage chronic diseases, advise on public health issues, and participate in continuing education to ensure they use the most current evidence-based medicine in their practice.
There are different types of APRNs, including.
• Nurse practitioners
RECOMMENDED ONLINE NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS
• Nurse midwives
• Clinical nurse specialists
• Certified nurse anesthetists
WHY ARE ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES IMPORTANT TO THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM?
(The following are the top 10 reasons why advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system.)
REASON #1: Improve access to healthcare in rural communities.
One of the top reasons why advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system is because they can help improve access to healthcare in rural communities. There need to be more providers in rural communities because those living in rural communities
typically have more chronic health issues, fewer resources, and are older. Advanced practice nurses, specifically nurse practitioners, can help fill these voids and improve access, as NPs are more likely to settle in rural communities
REASON #2: Emphasize education in their daily practice.
Emphasizing education in their daily practice is one of the reasons why advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system. Education is crucial to help patients understand and feel in control of their diagnoses and overall health. NPs are strong educators of medications including why the patient is taking the medication and possible side effects. They also provide education on the management of diagnoses including diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. They also educate on the importance of preventative measures such as cancer screenings, diet, and routine exercise.
I always ask my patients at the end of my appointment if they understand what I reviewed with them. I will also provide printouts of new diagnoses or medications that the patient seems unsure about—with instructions to call with any questions once they have read through the information.
REASON #3: Improve patient outcomes.
APRNs improve patient outcomes
. These positive outcomes include lower readmission rates, fewer unnecessary ER visits, and overall better health outcomes. Patients also have the same or higher satisfaction with APRNs as their healthcare provider. This satisfaction with their provider demonstrates a trusting and respectful relationship that may lead to better compliance with the treatment plan.
are one specific type of APRN with a strong reputation for improving patient outcomes. Besides what is discussed above, NPs also lead to lower healthcare costs and post-surgical mortality rates.
REASON #4: Advocate for healthcare policy.
Advanced practice nurses advocate for healthcare policy changes. As a group, APRNs aim to improve healthcare for everyone and take this role seriously by joining other organizations or groups of people with similar agendas regarding healthcare policy.
APRNs may be advocating for many reasons—with the ultimate goal being to improve the healthcare system. The APRN may advocate for better access to healthcare, providing more cost-effective care and treatment, or for a scope of practice change that will positively impact healthcare delivery.
REASON #5: Advocate for their communities to improve health outcomes and access.
Advanced practice nurses advocate for their communities to improve outcomes. Advanced practice nurses are in a unique position, allowing them to attend community assessments and other meetings that help identify the community's needs—including healthcare needs, socioeconomic needs, etc.
Advanced practice nurses then use this information and work with local organizations to provide resources and education to their community. Examples of some of these services include vaccine clinics, free skin cancer checks, or pamphlets with important public health information.
REASON #6: Focus on preventative care.
Advanced practice nurses place importance on preventative care. In my own practice, my patients have an annual physical once a year where we update routine blood work allowing us to identify any early signs of health problems. At these appointments, we also discuss cancer screenings that are appropriate for the patient such as colonoscopy or mammogram. Lastly, we update family history to identify any other tests that may be needed based on the person’s family history.
By emphasizing preventive care, it allows us to help our patients stay healthy and identify and diagnose problems early on leading to better outcomes.
REASON #7: Lower healthcare costs
Advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system because they also lead to lower healthcare costs
. This is demonstrated through shorter hospitalizations and fewer readmissions. NPs also help lead to lower unnecessary ER visits which can be attributed to the care and education provided while the patient is in the clinic. Patients of advanced practice providers also have lower medication and prescription costs which is why advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system.
REASON #8: Help fill the voids seen with the physician shortage.
The Association of American Medical Colleges
predicts an estimated physician shortage of 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034 in primary and specialty care settings. This predicted shortage is frightening as healthcare demands grow and access becomes more difficult.
As a result, advanced practice nurses are an excellent resource to help fill these voids which is why advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system. APRNs can work in all primary and specialty care settings, hospitals, and long-term care facilities improving access to healthcare. In many states, NPs can also work independent of a physician or supervising provider
increasing their flexibility and ability to improve access. By utilizing APRNs, patients can receive high-quality healthcare despite the expected physician shortage.
REASON #9: Focus on the whole person.
Advanced practice nurses have a wholistic approach when caring for their patients. NPs understand that the whole person is important, and when one piece is neglected, it may negatively impact the person’s well-being. Therefore, NPs not only focus on the person’s physical health, but also factor in their emotional and spiritual health to ensure the patient is receiving the best care.
REASON #10: They are always providing education to their patients.
The number 10 reason why advanced practice nurses are important to the healthcare system is because they always educate their patients. Nurses have the reputation of continuously educating their patients, whether about the treatment plan, medications, or their illness. And this is no different for APRNs—they carry this foundational piece of their job to their new role in healthcare.
APRNs want their patients to feel empowered and in control of their health. They believe that if they can continue to provide a new piece of information at every appointment, their patients will begin to have a better understanding of their underlying health problems, the specifics regarding their medications, and the need to follow certain recommendations such as diet restrictions, blood pressure guidelines or importance of close blood sugar monitoring.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
So, why are advanced practice nurses important to the healthcare system? After reading the article above, 10 reasons why advanced practice nurses are so important to the healthcare system, I am sure you will be able to better answer this question. APRNs are a critical component of the healthcare system. They help improve access to underserved communities, whether in a rural or urban setting, lead to improved patient outcomes, and advocate for healthcare changes in their communities.
Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!