Since the 1960s nurse practitioners (NPs) have provided care for patients, at a time when there was a physician shortage that increased demand for additional providers, particularly in rural areas. At that time federal funds were provided for training NPs. NP education and training is more extensive compared to the training and education for registered nurses, however is not as extensive as training and education for physicians, so nurse practitioners are considered to be mid-level providers.
Mid-level care is provided by Adult NPs (ANPs) to adults in different settings ranging from military units, to hospitals and home care within communities. What makes ANPs so unique is that they always take a holistic approach when it comes to health, which stress the overall mental and physical health of their patients along with their wellness and the families of patients, instead of just treating the problems a patient is having and then sending them home.
ANPs are also skilled educators in addition to being physician extenders. They teach patients how to take care of themselves in order to cope with and prevent all kinds of conditions and diseases.
Both acute and preventive care are provided by ANPs to patients. They either work as team members on a larger healthcare team or independently. One preventive role that is filled by ANPs is within a mobile clinic- for individuals whose access to healthcare services is limited. In these mobile wellness clinics, essential services are provided by ANPs to individuals who need it most at fairly low costs for patients. In those settings, it can be invaluable when an aspiring adult NP happens to be fluent in Spanish or another second language.
There are more acute care jobs available for ANPs compared to those in preventive settings. Every type of clinic, including geriatrics, mental health services, sleep disorders, weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, plastic surgery and dermatology, hire ANPs for evaluating and treating patients.
Although the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner role has been specifically designed for hospital jobs, there are some ANPs that work in hospitals as well. An ANP with relevant acute care experience might have a hospital job. The core skill-set of an ANP, upon graduating from their NP program, will provide a very strong foundation for various clinical roles within both rural and urban areas.
Some individuals decide to stick with just one clinical area during their entire career, and others will work in various areas. This type of flexibility helps to create increased job mobility, meaning there are more career choices.
ANPs might also manage research projects or conduct clinical research. In those roles there may be a very broad range of skills that are put to use, from scientific writing to data monitoring and clinical care.
There are excellent programs all across the country. However, the US News & World Report shows that over the past 20 years the top ranked nursing school for the ANP degree is the University of Pennsylvania. Penn Nursing, with its excellent faculty of researchers and clinicians, along with its world-class medical center, sets a high standard for ANP programs. Each ANP master’s student works closely with faculty members so that clinical experiences are tailored to meet the specific needs of the student.