Nurse practitioners play an important role in coordinating care and referring patients to specialists when needed. Collaborating with other healthcare team members about care provides the best path forward for patients. Referring to specialists helps patients get the specialized care they need for a specific ailment.
To best coordinate patient care, nurse practitioners should maintain strong communication with their team and patients. Clear communication among patients, nurse practitioners and care teams helps eliminate misunderstandings and lost time between a diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.
Working as a healthcare advocate
Nurse practitioners are advocates for patients. This means improving patients’ access to healthcare services, treatment or resources to aid recovery or rehabilitation.
NPs also show patients how simple lifestyle adjustments in diet, activity and other areas can lead to improved outcomes. They may work to integrate lifestyle adjustments as a portion of a treatment plan. For example, they might prescribe medication to improve blood pressure but also advocate for daily exercise to enhance the medication’s efficacy.
Nurse practitioners advocate for patients on a legislative level too. For example, they might address local, state or federal legislative bodies on their patients’ behalf to advocate for additional resources. This approach is essential when serving a community of patients facing socioeconomic challenges.
Educated NPs serving as healthcare advocates learn to speak productively with decision-makers to improve the healthcare system as a whole. Whether communicating with local stakeholders, municipal representatives or treatment facility coordinators, nurse practitioners learn how to advocate for solutions that can help address the health challenges facing their community.
Accountability for professional practice
An NP is primarily accountable to the patients they serve. The decisions made, and the treatment plans, implemented, directly affect the health of patients. It’s important for all NPs to maintain transparency and trust with patients through the assessment, diagnosis and care-plan phases of treatment.
Nurse practitioners are encouraged to follow, and may be required to adhere to, the Nursing Code of Ethics, a guide set by the American Nurses Association that dictates appropriate nurse conduct in the workplace. States regulate the practice of nursing, including all nurse practitioners through each state’s laws and regulations, sometimes referred to as a state’s Nurse Practice Act. These state Boards of Nursing develop and maintain robust and statewide nursing standards.
When an NP violates these accountability standards, they also violate the trust between practitioner and patient. Violations can lead to a loss of licensure and even criminal charges, particularly when patient outcomes suffer as a result.