Health care

The Role of a Nurse Practitioner in Inpatient and Outpatient Care

3 Mins read
  • Nurse practitioners are playing an ever more important role in the healthcare field

Nurse practitioners are healthcare workers whose focuses are often based on a demographic rather than a given type of nursing (e.g. an ER nurse). Some of these nurse practitioner demographic specialties include geriatric, pediatric, and women’s health, though nurse practitioners do sometimes specialize in things like oncology or cardiovascular disease, rather than a group of individuals.

Nurse practitioners have been in healthcare since the sixties, and those currently holding jobs as NPs are required to have at least a master’s degree, though many now have doctorates in nursing (DNP), and this is becoming the preferred level of education. Due to these lower educational costs compared to physicians (NP education is estimated to be about 1/4th of what PhD education is), NPs are able to provide less-expensive care, placing them in a higher demand in the world of ever-evolving healthcare costs.

Nurse practitioners are also peer reviewed very positively when it comes to quality of care. Both fellow healthcare workers and patients report higher satisfaction with NPs, fewer emergency room visits when dealing with an NP on an ongoing basis, and fewer hospitalizations compared to individuals receiving care from doctors.

Even in a survey given to a group of doctors, nurse practitioners were revered as a more practical position to pursue and receive care from as a patient. 66% of the corresponding doctors said they would recommend becoming an NP over a doctor if they had to “do it all over again.” Here is a closer look at what makes nurse practitioners desirable in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

NP Role – Inpatient Services

Inpatient services include things that involve an extended stay at a site of care, generally at least one night. Surgeries tend to be inpatient services, as well as any sort of extended bed care. Most NPs will have a predetermined (and studied) focus regarding which patients they serve in inpatient care, such as pediatrics. NPs are revered for their patient-centric care tactics, and it’s just easier to develop those skills when dealing with similar patients.

NPs provide many of the same services to their patients in inpatient care that doctors would, but often at a fraction of the cost. Many NP care facilities exist simply to service patients who can not afford doctor’s services, which can be as much as four-times more expensive when rendered by a doctor instead of an NP, and often the services provided by NPs is considered better, especially due to their collective focus on patient experience.

This patient experience focus also extends to practices rendered for outpatient care.

NP Role – Outpatient Services

Outpatient services are those that generally do not require an extended stay at a hospital. Physicals, non-invasive procedures, and most unplanned visits qualify as outpatient care. NPs’ focus on the whole patient experience is a touch harder for outpatient services, as they time to build trust in their patients is shorter, but the tactics for doing so are the same. To become a nurse in 2021, the patient experience focus is heavy, as it is with nurse practitioners, ultimately making for a better experience from start to finish for a given patient.  

This is why NPs tend to stand out, especially in outpatient care, as they are trained to treat the patient, not just the patient’s ailment. Just as with inpatient services, NPs providing care to individuals in the outpatient setting are qualified to do many of the same duties as their doctor counterparts, but can do it at a much lower cost.

The Future

Because of these lower costs and higher rates of patient satisfaction, many facilities revolving around nurse practitioner care are continuing to pop up around the country and continuing to receive high levels of positive feedback both related to services rendered and overall experience. There are many talks of universal healthcare in U.S. political circles, but currently it is still an expensive part of most Americans’ lives, or simply a non-existent part of their lives due to high prices.

With this focus on affordable and patient-centric care the current trends of more patients preferring NPs to doctors are expected to continue beyond 2021. Those individuals thinking about careers in healthcare should also consider becoming a nurse practitioner, as demand is high.

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Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.
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