Families not only share physical characteristics, genealogy, behaviors, and living spaces, they also experience similar health problems. If the parents suffer from a particular allergy, there are chances the child will suffer from the same allergy. Similarly, obesity, diabetes, cold, and flu are common family health issues passed on from generation to generation.
Understanding your family’s healthcare needs and catering to the varying demands of infants to seniors can be perplexing. It’s hard to secure doctor’s appointments, and then a lot of time is lost in waiting rooms. However, a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) can help. Family Nurse Practitioners provide primary healthcare services to families according to their needs. Responsibilities of a family nursing practitioner range from documenting and maintaining a family’s history of health issues, planning their healthcare, to performing physical exams. An FNP can evaluate symptoms and develop appropriate treatment plans and prescribe medications. Additionally, family nurse practitioners motivate and educate families about healthy lifestyles. Therefore, family nurse practitioners are the experts with the skill and knowledge to sort out your family’s health issues.
FNP Vs RN
Why choose an FNP for your family health issue and not an RN? An FNP has more knowledge, skill, and expertise in providing family-focused healthcare. Moreover, they can diagnose, prescribe, and run medical tests on patients while registered nurses cannot. A registered nurse can provide patient care, provide emotional and moral support, administer medicines but they cannot treat health issues. Therefore, consulting an FNP regarding family healthcare is the best idea. An RN can become a Family Nursing Practitioner by qualifying for an MSN FNP degree and treat patients independently or under a physician’s supervision. It depends on the state laws.
Following are some of the health issues your FNP can treat.
Allergies are one of the most common illnesses in the world. In the United States of America, 40% of children and 30% of adults suffer from allergies. However, most people often confuse allergy with the common cold. Family Nursing Practitioners can help a family differentiate between an allergy and a cold. They do so by running skin and blood tests on family members and checking for potential allergens. Once the nurses are sure of an allergen, they educate the family regarding the type of allergy and its management. FNP points out different signs and symptoms that may appear on exposure to a particular allergen and prescribes medications to manage the symptoms. Similarly, a family nurse practitioner can aid patients in avoiding an allergen by helping patients make various lifestyle changes.
Pink eye is another common illness that family nurse practitioners can quickly diagnose and treat. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. It manifests as itching, redness, burning, and pus-like discharge from the eye. Due to the inflammation, the eye appears pink, resulting in panic among the family. A family nurse practitioner can easily handle a patient with conjunctivitis. Firstly, an FNP diagnoses whether the conjunctivitis is due to bacteria, virus, or allergy. She then checks the severity of the patient’s condition, whether the patient is suffering from blurred vision or cannot open their eyes upon waking up, and plans accordingly. For bacterial conjunctivitis, FNP prescribes antibiotics.
Similarly, for allergies family nurse practitioner recommends antihistamines. In addition, FNP provide tips to prevent and control inflammation. For example, FNP counsels the patients to wash hands, apply a cold compress, and discard contaminated makeup or household items to stop the transmission of infection.
3. Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease
Many senior members of a family complain about heartburn and acid reflux. However, they often fail to seek medical care for their condition, resulting in ulceration of the esophagus and stomach. A family health practitioner can prevent this. An FNP can diagnose GERD early on and begin treatment. FNP diagnose a patient by obtaining a nutritional history and lab tests. After that, she develops a weight loss plan and prescribes over-the-counter drugs to the patient. In addition to this, family nurse practitioners also advise the patient to quit alcohol and smoking as they can increase the risk of GERD. Similarly, nurses recommend patients make day-to-day changes in their routine. For example, nurses recommend consuming small frequent meals, keeping their posture straight during and after a meal, and not sleeping right after eating.
Diarrhea is a common illness, but as manageable as diarrhea sounds, it can quickly get out of hand and cause severe dehydration. This severe dehydration leads to alarmingly low levels of the body’s fluid levels, resulting in electrolyte imbalance that can damage the brain and cause death. Consequently, seeking medical help from a family nurse is necessary. A family nurse practitioner reverses the dehydration by keeping in control the level of the electrolytes through the administration of IV fluids. Accordingly, the nurse develops a plan, counsels the patient regarding the management or treatment of diarrhea, and warns the family regarding the signs of dehydration. At the same time, FNP assesses the stomach for abdominal pain, runs a stool culture, and identifies the cause of diarrhea. An FNP will also review the food preparation, food consumption, and medication intake of the patient to determine whether these factors played a role in causing diarrhea or not.
Obesity is a complicated disease whose prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate. In the United States, 37.9% of men and 41.15% of females suffer from obesity, twice the obesity count in the 1990s. Not only are adults obese, but also teenagers and children of today suffer from obesity. A family nurse practitioner is essential for controlling and preventing this petrifying increase in obesity. An FNP educates families regarding the risks of obesity like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory problems, sleep disorders, depression, and cancer. In addition, they help patients opt for healthier lifestyles that are easy to follow and maintain. FNP teaches the significance of staying active and taking a balanced diet. They also care for obese children and motivate them to play outside instead of staying inside watching TV.
6. Depression & Anxiety
Cases of mental health issues are greater than ever before, and family nurse practitioners are often the first healthcare staff to come across such patients. Family nurse practitioners can diagnose patients with anxiety or depression and help them get better. They do so by actively listening to the patients, being physically present during panic attacks, and encouraging their participation in exercises that help them relax. Moreover, FNP counsels the patient’s family on how to handle the patient during depressive episodes or panic attacks. Lastly, they inform the patients about the signs that indicate worsening depression or escalating anxiety.
Family nurse practitioners are a vital part of the healthcare system as FNPs are the units of healthcare that focus on promoting health at a family level. They diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases relating to families and raise health awareness. Most family nurse practitioners can treat chronic problems, but they do not have the authority to treat critical illnesses. Some health issues are above their level of expertise. Specifically, diseases with unclear diagnoses require special treatment or surgery.
Moreover, various states restrict FNPs from working independently and require that a physician supervise the work of FNPs. However, some states give full autonomy to family nurse practitioners and provide them with the freedom to treat patients independently. Essentially, the privilege is borne of the need for medical practitioners who can provide primary care to those in need.