During April 2012, recruiters headed to Joplin, Mo., in an effort to secure job applications from nurse practitioners interested in working in the state. According to one of the organizations present at the recruiting fair, Missouri has been hit especially hard with a shortage of qualified nurse practitioners. There are nurse practitioner jobs available in every major city in Missouri as well as most of the smaller ones as well. Nurse practitioners in that state can work for hospitals, private practices and public health clinics and schools.
Three states away, Georgia hosted a recruiting fair in April as well. Theirs was not focused solely on nurse practitioner jobs (they were also looking for LPNs, RNs, nurse assistants, etc.) but they are also dealing with a terribly high shortage in that field. Just like in Missouri, nurse practitioners are needed just about everywhere in the state. From Atlanta to Augusta to Valdosta, there's plenty of work for any nurse practitioners who want it.
Playing a Vital Role
Nurse practitioners play a vital role in alleviating some of the responsibilities of physicians and physician assistants. Although regulations differ from one state to the next, the nurse practitioner typically works as part of a team headed by a physician and assists him or her with routine patient care in circumstances when it's not absolutely vital to have the doctor present. Nurse practitioners can perform routine examinations, offer diagnoses, order tests and devise treatment plans for certain types of conditions.
The nurse practitioner is always working under the direct supervision of at least one doctor, though the doctor does not look over the practitioner's shoulder, observing everything he or she does. The nurse practitioner will consult with doctors regarding the treatment of patients and ask for approval and advice as needed. In some cases, patients could be treated at the office of their primary care physician and never see their doctor. All of their care could come directly from the nurse practitioner, who is supervised by the doctor.
The History of Nurse Practitioners
According to the Mayo Clinic, the first nurse practitioner jobs originated in the 1960s as a response to a shortage of qualified physicians. They go on to say that the nurse practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) with some additional specialized training. Since most states require continuing education for nurses of all levels in order to maintain their licenses, it is quite common for nurse practitioners to continue graduate-level education all the way to earning a master’s degree.
Most of us don’t give much thought to nurse practitioner jobs. But many of us would be fully aware if we needed to schedule doctor’s appointments eight to 10 months in advance because nurse practitioners didn't exist. They do a lot for us behind the scenes that we're not even aware of. And when we do interact directly with the nurse practitioner, he or she usually provides the best medical care possible -- on par with our doctors’ care.
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