National Nurse Practitioner Week takes place November 8-14 each year to raise awareness about the care offered by Nurse Practitioners. Drs. Cynthia (Cindi) Figueroa, Ph.D., ARNP, ANP-BC and Stacia Hays, DNP, ARNP, PNP-BC, are College of Nursing faculty members and nurse practitioners. Here are some of their answers to common questions about nurse practitioners.
- What is the role of the nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioners (NP) are advanced practice registered nurses (Masters and Doctorate educational levels) who deliver care to patients throughout the lifespan, from premature newborns to the elderly or geriatric population.
As nurses, NP’s bring a holistic approach to practice, managing and addressing not only the patient but 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 for example, X-rays and EKGs, 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 role do nurse practitioners play in our local community?
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 which provides care for those who have minimal access to services. Local NP’s can be found in primary care centers, intensive care units, emergency departments, chronic care clinics, and psychiatric facilities, to name a few.
- What resources are available to nurse practitioners to continue to expand their knowledge base after they have completed their education?
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 is comprised of Advanced Practice Nurses working in clinical practice across the region (including UF Health Shands facilities, the Veteran Affairs healthcare system, 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 Advance 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 such as first aid stations at the Kanapaha Park Garden Festival and Helping Hands Clinic. As board members of this organization, we are delighted to have new student members who are currently pursuing their advanced practice nursing degrees.
NP’s are eager to network and provide support for each other. There are several resources available at the state and national levels who offer ongoing education to their members. Some examples include the Florida Nurses Association and various national NP specialty organizations.
To learn more about the North Central Florida Advanced Practice Network, visit their website at https://ncfapn.enpnetwork.com/.