November 12-18, 2017 is recognized as National Nurse Practitioner week.
There are more than 234,000 of them in the U.S. and an additional 23,000
Nurse Practitioner (NP) students graduating each year. There are more
than 16,000 NPs in Texas, and the number is increasing each year.
Kay Hatton, who has been with Covenant since 1996, is a perinatal nurse
practitioner in Maternal/Fetal medicine. She gives us a look at the importance
of nurse practitioners, what they do and don’t do, and how they
fill a need in healthcare settings.
Many of the Nurse Practitioners across Texas are graduates of Texas Tech
University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, which offers graduate
NP programs in Family, Pediatric Primary Care, Pediatric Acute Care, Acute
Care-Adult Gerontology, and Psychiatric studies.
Nurse Practitioners are advanced-practice registered nurses who have obtained
specialized education and clinical training, through master’s and
doctoral degrees. This educational preparation provides them with specialized
knowledge and clinical competency which enables them to practice in various
healthcare settings as primary and/or specialty care providers. Most NPs
have national certification in their area of expertise. They provide high-quality
healthcare within communities and are especially valuable as primary care
providers in underserved rural communities.
NPs diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high
blood pressure, infections and injuries. They order and interpret laboratory
and diagnostic tests; prescribe medications and treatments; and provide
health education and counseling, ultimately helping patients to make smarter
health and lifestyle choices.
Nurse Practitioners practice under the rules and regulations of the state
board of nursing in which they are licensed, as well as, in accordance
with the education and certification that was completed. Approximately
62 percent of NPs in the U.S. are Family Nurse Practitioners. Other clinical
focus areas are Adult, Acute Care, Neonatal, Pediatric, Women’s
Health, Psychiatric, and Gerontology.
NPs represent a large number of healthcare providers in various settings,
including inpatient acute care, critical care units, outpatient ambulatory
and urgent care clinics, or long-term rehab units. Many NPs and physicians
practice together as a team in specialty areas. Covenant Health has many
NPs that practice in both inpatient and outpatient areas across our healthcare system.
More than 20 states in the U.S. have granted full-practice authority to
Nurse Practitioners, allowing them to practice to the full extent of their
education and expertise. Nurse Practitioners who practice in Texas have
restricted practice, which affects many areas of practice including prescriptive
authority. In Texas, Nurse Practitioners have prescriptive authority through
written agreements with a collaborating physician. There continues to
be ongoing legislative efforts at the state level to gain support for
full-practice authority in Texas.
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Kay R. Hatton, APRN, MSN, RDMS, PNNP (Perinatal Nurse Practitioner) completed
her Perinatal Nurse Practitioner studies at Regis University in Denver
in 1998; and has been a Nurse Practitioner with the Covenant Maternal
Fetal group since. She is certified as a Registered Diagnostic Medical
Sonographer (RDMS) in OB-GYN since 1996, which has been of benefit in
her NP practice over the years. The Perinatal Nurse Practitioner represents
a small group of Nurse Practitioners across the U.S. (approximately 100)
that are trained in providing care for the special population of mothers
and families experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, along with Maternal Fetal
Hatton was elected to serve as vice president/president-elect from 2011-2013;
and as president 2013-2015 of the South Plains Nurse Practitioner Association
(SPNPA), the local NP organization. SPNPA has a membership of approximately
85 members. Hatton was awarded South Plains Nurse Practitioner of the
Year in 2014. In addition, she was elected to the board of directors for
the Texas Nurse Practitioner Association, serving as South Plains Regional
Representative for two terms from 2013-2016. Hatton continues to be active
in these organizations and mentoring NP students; and encourages all NPs
to stay active in their professional organizations and stay current on
issues that can have an impact on their practice.