Nurse Practitioners (usually referred to as "NPs") are nursing professionals working in a number of different areas who have obtained specialized training and have been credentialed to provide expanded practice. Their work often overlaps with that of physicians, nurses and other medical staff; NPs can provide diagnoses, order and perform evaluations and diagnostic tests, and provide treatments (including prescribing medicines). But rather than replacing others in the organization, the NP supplements the work of more traditional providers and creates a more fluid experience for patients.
Because nurse practitioners have such a wide range of expertise, they are able to work across the hospital, bridge gaps between care providers, and fill multiple roles to give patients quick and effective care. NPs also use their wide range of knowledge to help patients with larger health issues and symptom management in the same way that a physician does -- testing and diagnosing problems, making recommendations for lifestyle changes to address the core problems, and prescribing treatments to improve symptoms. NPs often play a key role in patient safety efforts: reading charts, identifying potential issues, coordinating with RNs, anesthesiologists and primary care doctors in their work, and coordinating all aspects of patient care.
Thirty-one NPs work in a number of clinical settings across Suburban Hospital. The hospital is committed to helping current staff access the additional training needed to increase those numbers. NPs have masters or doctorate degrees, and Suburban provides tuition reimbursement to help staff in their studies. The organization provides for flexible scheduling to allow nurses to attend classes and required clinical rotations while working full time.