Common health concerns FNPs face in their practice
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are essential in the healthcare system. They work in various environments and collaborate with doctors and other medical professionals to provide primary care to patients of all ages. So, it's no surprise they encounter health concerns that are more common in their practice now and then.
These health concerns vary, and learning how to treat them effectively is crucial to providing quality healthcare. Amid a worldwide doctor shortage, FNPs bridge the gap in improving access to quality healthcare. From primary care to the emergency room, FNPs provide preventive care, manage chronic illnesses and assist other healthcare professionals when unexpected medical needs arise.
FNPs are among the most sympathetic and close-knit medical professionals. After all, their work responsibilities are grounded in long-lasting and sometimes multigenerational patient relationships. FNPs have a strong sense of their communities' general health due to the care they provide to multiple age groups, making them ideal for treating common health concerns.
Obesity is one of the most significant issues affecting America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals obesity increased from 30% to more than 40% between 1999 and 2020. While there are no definite answers as to what is driving America's chronic weight problems, the preponderance of evidence points to the two causes most individuals suspect, which are too much food and too little exercise. FNPs can play a critical role in helping patients combat unwanted weight gain.
Although weight and overall health are not always intertwined, obesity is among the leading causes of multiple comorbid and chronic health issues such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. As medical professionals working with patients of all ages, FNPs are primed to diagnose patients with obesity. The relationships they build with patients from diverse backgrounds make the FNP's role in obesity effective. Instead of going to weight loss specialists and using weight loss devices, obesity management should begin in primary care with the FNP, who provides high-quality and patient-centered treatment.
According to the American Association for Nurse Practitioners, the provider-patient relationship is essential to patient commitment to initiate and follow lifestyle changes. Since FNPs are skilled in building effective patient communication and partnerships, they can help obese individuals determine their health objectives and discuss plans to succeed. Stopping the obesity epidemic requires sustained commitment and dedication to helping everyone understand the factors associated with weight management.
Perform a BMI screening
Regular body mass index (BMI) monitoring is one of the most effective first steps towards helping patients tackle obesity. By performing a BMI screening, FNPs can warn patients about the dangers that their weight may pose.
According to The Washington Post, nearly half of America's overweight individuals do not realize they are obese. A BMI screening increases the likelihood they will seek help and make meaningful lifestyle changes.
Develop weight loss plans
FNPs can help patients create a weight loss plan if they require weight management assistance. By creating an easy-to-follow weight loss plan, FNPs can help obese patients adopt healthy new habits and break unhealthy ones.
For a weight loss plan to be effective, FNPs must base it on three components: a plan to change diet, a schedule for introducing or increasing physical activity and a comprehensive strategy for altering behaviors that can result in overeating.
Nurse practitioners must also ensure patients can access external resources that may help with weight loss, such as dieticians and mental health professionals, to achieve holistic healing.
In instances where children are suffering from obesity, FNPs must use a different approach to ensure effective treatment. For example, they can involve the family in a child's weight management program to provide emotional and behavioral support. By creating a support system, FNPs can ensure kids overcome their urges and meet weight management goals successfully.
Diabetes is a growing problem in the country, impacting more than 37 million Americans. A CNN report reveals diabetes rates among individuals under age 20 may increase by 675% by 2060. This is mainly due to the rising childhood obesity rates, poor diet, lack of physical exercise and many individuals carrying a gene that predisposes carriers to diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
Caring for individuals with diabetes requires a patient-centered approach to treatment goals and medication regimens. With a patient-centered approach, medical professionals can enhance patient engagement in self-care activities and help them manage their health. FNPs adopt patient-centered care in treatment interventions, making them ideal for helping diabetic patients.
FNPs with an FNP Certificate online from a leading academic institution such as Wilkes University can be highly beneficial when treating diabetic patients. Within this they can learn key skills such as therapeutic interventions for complex health conditions. Although diabetes treatment strategies can vary depending on the medical professional, FNPs often begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the patient's lifestyle, medical history and health to identify the severity and the type of diabetes.
FNPs can also prescribe medications such as antidiabetic drugs and insulin to control blood sugar levels. Depending on the diabetes' severity, an FNP may schedule regular check-ups to evaluate the patient's progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Regular check-ups ensure patients are provided with the proper care and support, as uncontrolled diabetes can lead to devastating and life-altering complications such as blindness, foot disease, stroke, kidney failure and heart attacks.
Heart disease is another common illness. Some of the risk factors include excessive alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, poor diet, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. As FNPs often highlight, disease prevention is crucial for patient care.
Preventing heart disease starts early, and taking proactive steps at all stages of life can help minimize risk. Several health issues associated with heart disease are preventable. FNPs can provide at-risk individuals with strategies to change their lifestyle behaviors, increase their physical activity and learn stress management. There are several additional ways that FNPs can contribute to heart disease treatment, including:
FNPs can manage cardiac rehabilitation programs by supervising exercise routines and supporting patients recovering from heart-related surgeries.
Heart failure management
FNPs can manage medication, monitor fluid retention and educate patients on symptom recognition to help them manage the complexities of heart disease.
FNPs serve as the primary point of contact for patients suffering from heart disease. After conducting risk assessments and diagnosing them with heart disease, FNPs can coordinate care by working closely with cardiologists, nurses and other specialists to provide a multidisciplinary and coordinated care approach.
FNPs address the emotional and psychological components of heart disease by offering support and resources to help patients cope with the condition's impact on their mental health. Depending on the patient's preferences, FNPs can provide emotional counseling, refer them to support groups, conduct behavioral interventions and teach stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
In addition, FNPs can highlight the importance of a positive attitude and a robust support system in the management and recovery of heart disease to keep patients in high spirits amid problematic situations. Offering psychosocial support empowers FNPs to contribute to better overall patient health outcomes. Through their holistic approach, FNPs can ensure patients receive comprehensive care that considers both their physical and emotional well-being.
With the American healthcare system facing an unprecedented human resource shortage and heart disease rates rising, FNPs can help to build healthier communities, optimize treatment and focus on health equity. As an FNP, you are a wellness ambassador and have a wealth of knowledge on how to improve an individual's well-being and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Depression is more common than you might think in the United States. Recent numbers indicate more than 20% of the American population has been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) note that depression affects all ages in varying degrees.
Considering that FNPs deal with patients across multiple age brackets, it is no wonder that depression is among the most common health concerns they encounter. The onus is on FNPs to differentiate between symptoms that are indicative of clinical depression and those signifying contextual and temporary sadness. This is particularly challenging in the adolescent stage, during which individuals are impulsive and unpredictable due to their brains experiencing rapid development. With nearly one in five Americans suffering from depression, FNPs are increasingly called upon to fill the gap in mental healthcare and ensure the nation remains on top of the ongoing mental health crisis.
Although FNPs are not exclusively mental healthcare providers, they are often the first contact for patients in the healthcare system and are vital in providing the initial diagnosis and treatment for mental illnesses. FNPs provide comprehensive care to all patients, from infancy to end-of-life, so treating depression is well within their scope of practice. However, their scope of practice can differ from one state to another.
FNPs must conduct their research and examine their scope of practice for their state as it will inform them of the laws regarding prescribing limits and circumstances where they must refer the patient to a specialist. Regardless, there are several ways FNPs treat individuals suffering from depression and mental illnesses.
Offer preventive mental healthcare
FNPs promote holistic mental health by offering patients preventive mental healthcare to improve mental well-being. This includes helping clients prioritize physical activity, maintaining the proper diet, engaging in continuous mental health education, avoiding potentially stressful situations and participating in the community. By offering preventive mental healthcare, FNPs can reduce the adverse impacts of depression on the client's life, manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Conduct a comprehensive mental health screening
FNPs treat depression by conducting a comprehensive mental health screening to identify specific behavioral trends and patterns that may otherwise be unusual. Since FNPs are holistic providers, they can determine the risk factors and root causes of depression and other cognitive behavioral issues.
For instance, an FNP may conduct a blood test to look for thyroid issues, which can result in anxiety or depression. Other than considering the possible physical contributors to depression, FNPs performing a comprehensive mental health screening will ask about stressors, recent life changes, moods, feelings and behaviors.
Depending on state laws and regulations, FNPs can prescribe medications to individuals experiencing depression, such as antidepressants. Prescribing antidepressants helps relieve severe depression symptoms. This helps the client remain emotionally stable so they can follow their routine.
Collaborate with other healthcare providers
FNPs collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure individuals with depression have access to psychotherapy. Through psychological treatment, FNPs can help to relieve depression symptoms and reduce the risk of clients experiencing depression again. It can also help patients gain a better understanding of the symptoms of depression.
The role of FNPs is constantly evolving. As the demands placed on FNPs to deliver care change, so do patient needs. By being flexible and resourceful in their practice, FNPs can help patients address common health concerns whenever and wherever they occur.