A hospital-based nurse practitioner (NP) can expect to have a diverse and broad list of duties throughout the course of a working week. They may find themselves doing everything from clinical duties to administrative tasks and acting as a bridge between patients and doctors. Let’s dig down into this multifaceted role and take a closer look at the significant contribution they make to patients.
As an NP working in a hospital, your clinical duties are varied and numerous. One of the key tasks is making patient rounds. This involves checking on each assigned patient regularly, assessing their conditions, monitoring their vital signs, and taking note of any changes in their health status. These regular check-ins make sure that you’re always up to date with each patient’s condition and can respond quickly to any issues that pop up.
Beyond routine checks, you’ll also play a role whenever an emergency response situation presents itself. Whether it’s a sudden deterioration in a patient’s health or an unexpected incident within the hospital premises, NPs will be called upon. You’ll be asked to assess patients while also coordinating with the rest of the healthcare team to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
NPs often care for patients with complex healthcare needs, too. This could include patients dealing with multiple chronic illnesses at the same time, or those that require specialized treatments such as chemotherapy or dialysis. Your duty here extends beyond basic nursing care. Instead, it’s about understanding complex treatment plans and making sure they’re being correctly implemented.
Providing consultations is another common aspect of your role as an NP in a hospital setting. Consultations are a chance not just to provide care, but also to educate. You can explain diagnoses to patients, discuss the different treatment options available to them, and address any concerns that they may have. This type of education may also extend to family members of the patient and provide them with information about caring for their loved one’s post-discharge from the hospital.
Implementation of treatment is yet another clinical duty of NPs. You might administer medication that’s been prescribed by a physician or be involved in delegating that task to registered nurses under your supervision. This also includes overseeing therapeutic procedures, adjusting dosages based on patients’ responses, closely monitoring side effects, and maintaining accurate records.
Given this wide level of clinical responsibility, NPs are in high demand. The educational world understands this, and there are now accredited courses that provide all the skills and knowledge nurses need to excel in their careers through the use of coursework and clinical rotations, such as the MSN qualification offered by Wilkes University. This program is flexible and can be done 100% online. The clinical placement support offered in the program helps students secure placements in which they can gain invaluable experience, under close supervision of experienced professionals, of all the clinical duties required of a nurse.
Next up is administrative responsibilities, which will form a significant part of an NP’s week. This involves not only direct patient care but also coordinating with other staff members to make sure everything is chugging along seamlessly.
A key area of focus in this respect is staff coordination. NPs are expected to collaborate with various members of the healthcare team. This could be doctors, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, and even social workers, and you’ll help to coordinate patient care with all these parties. This collaboration often includes discussing treatment plans and sharing critical updates about patients’ conditions.
Another element here is scheduling. NPs in hospital settings are typically responsible for organizing patient tests and procedures that are in line with their treatment plans. Timely appointments can be quite challenging given the dynamic nature of hospital operations, but it’s an important part of patient management.
Resource management is another responsibility that can fall under the purview of an NP. Everything from securing necessary medical equipment or supplies for specific procedures to making sure there’s enough staffing on each shift may be required of an NP.
Given the amount of moving parts in a hospital, there are many policies and procedures that need to be followed. Overseeing adherence to these policies is another administrative duty of an NP. Compliance with established health policies safeguards the patients’ interests, and also those of the medical practitioners. There are strong ethical and legal reasons why these guidelines must be followed in a hospital setting.
The last administrative responsibility we’ll mention has to do with handling patient records. These records are often a central point of information for all members of a healthcare team, so that means it’s extremely important that they are current and correct. These records include information about a patient’s history, any treatments they’ve received, and progress notes about their case.
Training and development
The next part of an NP’s week that we’re going to discuss is training and development. The medical field is dynamic, with new practices and technologies emerging all the time, and to stay current in their roles, nurse practitioners must engage in continuous learning.
One way to do this is through participation in training sessions and workshops. While these may not occur every week, these educational opportunities are often organized by the healthcare facility or professional organizations that the NP belongs to. They provide an avenue for you to learn about new techniques, equipment, or new procedure updates.
The clinical duties we already spoke of could be considered part of an NP’s development, too. Their role may see them practicing specific techniques under supervision or taking on more complex tasks under the guidance of experienced colleagues.
The challenges that they face throughout their normal weekly duties are another chance for development. Dealing with complicated cases not only tests your problem-solving abilities but also provides insights into areas where additional training may be needed.
Healthcare team interaction
We mentioned at the beginning of the article how NPs in hospitals can act as a bridge between patient and doctor. As well as this, interaction with other members of the healthcare team is an integral and regular part of the day-to-day responsibilities of an NP.
This involves consistent coordination with specialists across different medical fields to provide patient care. As an example, if you’re managing a diabetic patient who develops cardiac complications, you’ll need to collaborate closely with a cardiologist to form a treatment plan.
Being part of this multidisciplinary team also means active participation in staff meetings. During these sessions, you will get the chance to contribute valuable insights from your unique perspective as a nurse practitioner. You can share observations about patients’ conditions or propose alternative approaches for their care plans.
Feedback and assessment are both important components of maintaining high standards within a healthcare team, so it’s important that you both give and receive feedback constructively. You might find yourself providing an evaluation of a colleague’s performance during a complex procedure or receiving advice on how to better manage different clinical situations. This culture of open communication leads to improvement and will help NPs make sure they stay at the top of their game.
Problems will arise that need to be solved, and this also involves NPs working together with healthcare teams. Pooling together diverse expertise is often the best way to quickly get to effective solutions rather than one person working on a problem alone. Sometimes these problems involve emergency situations where there’s no time to waste, and the skill set of an NP will really come to the fore by quickly getting everyone to work together.
Patient advocacy and education
We spoke earlier about educating patients and their families in the context of their care, but there’s another lens to look at it through. Beyond just treating illnesses and managing symptoms, patients need to be equipped with knowledge about making informed decisions regarding their health.
One of an NP’s key responsibilities is providing valuable health education and counseling. As well as offering advice on medication, side effects, and diagnoses, you can also explain lifestyle changes for better health outcomes. By doing so, you empower them to take an active role in managing their own health.
Equally important is ensuring that patients are aware of their rights within the healthcare system. Whether it’s obtaining consent before any procedure or respecting privacy and confidentiality, upholding these rights is extremely important. Showing them that you care about these issues will also help to build trust between you and the patient.
In terms of other education, NPs may find themselves offering resources such as pamphlets on different diseases or treatment options. They may also play a role in directing patients or their families toward support groups that could be beneficial for them. These additional resources can supplement what they learn from one-on-one consultations with you.
The other aspect of patient advocacy and education of an NP’s role relates to feedback. NPs can gather feedback from patients to understand what areas they feel comfortable with, and what aspects might have confused them or left unanswered questions lingering in their minds post-consultation. This feedback allows you to reflect and update your practice, as well as potentially contributing to changing best practices if a common problem emerges from these discussions.
Challenges and solutions
Let’s now look at some common challenges a hospital-based NP may face during the course of a normal week, as well as some solutions to those problems. One common issue is managing heavy caseloads while at the same time making sure each patient receives personalized care. In this situation, time management and prioritization skills are vital. Through effective scheduling and delegation, NPs can distribute tasks evenly among the team so that it’s balanced, and no one is overloaded.
Let’s imagine you’re in the emergency room on a busy Saturday night, and multiple patients require immediate attention. A well-organized triage system will prove invaluable here as it helps prioritize patients based on the severity of their condition. This strategy ensures that those in dire need get attended to first without compromising overall patient care.
Dealing with emotionally charged situations such as delivering bad news or handling distressed family members is another common challenge. Doing this well requires tactful communication skills combined with empathy. This is a balance that’s not always easy to strike, but it’s non-negotiable for maintaining good relations between healthcare staff and patients’ families.
One way to help with these problems and many others that you will encounter as an NP is to try and build a strong support system. This may encompass everything from peer mentorship programs to mental health resources, self-care strategies, or simply having someone who understands what you’re going through. Having a strong support network will often catch problems before they become bigger ones, and it should be something that you try and build.
Impact and fulfillment
Looking beyond the specific things an NP will do during their working week, we’ll now talk about what impact they will make and how the work will make them feel. Your expertise and clinical skills as a nurse directly contribute to the improved health of your patients, and this can be very rewarding. It’s not just about administering medication or performing procedures. It’s about being an active contributor to improving their quality of life.
Your role within the healthcare team is equally vital. As an NP, you serve as a conduit between physicians, other nurses such as holistic nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals. This collaboration is important for seamless communication and coordination of care for every patient under your watch. You bring together different perspectives into treatment plans, facilitating better decision-making processes that ultimately benefit the patients.
Efficiency in hospital operations also sees significant enhancement due to your contributions as an NP. Your ability to manage complex cases on your own reduces physician workload without sacrificing quality of care. In effect, this streamlines hospital operations by creating smoother patient flow patterns and reducing waiting times for urgent treatments.
All of this and more can lead to a lot of professional fulfillments. This is something that’s undeniably important in any career choice, and the satisfaction derived from seeing patients recover under your care is immeasurable. Knowing that you’ve made tangible differences in someone else’s life can be incredibly fulfilling on both a personal and professional level.
Throughout the working week of an NP in a hospital, they will find themselves in challenging situations. They will liaise with many different people in many different capacities and be heavily relied upon. Their important contribution to healthcare cannot be overstated. This responsibility requires that nurses are educated to a high standard. By completing an accredited course at a reputable institution, you will gain everything you need to embark on a rewarding and fulfilling career as a nurse.