A Guide to Advanced Clinical Practice
Over the past few decades, nursing has drastically transformed as a vocation and as a career path. Thirty years ago, nursing did not require much formal medical training, and it was predominantly women who became nurses, usually starting at the bottom and learning on-the-job from other women in the profession.
Somehow, it wasn’t even a particularly respected profession either – women gravitated to the role as they were traditionally the ‘caring’ gender, and it was seen as an extension to their role outside of the home environment. It certainly wasn’t considered a ‘male’ career choice.
Whilst the number of male nurses is still stubbornly low (just 10% of all nurses), the nurses’ role in the healthcare setting has expanded hugely, and now they are encouraged to join extensive training programs and study for degrees and Masters level education, to prepare themselves for the ever-changing opportunities in advanced clinical practice within the health field.
The rise of Advanced Clinical Practice
The reason for the shift in nursing in the present day is due to many changes and challenges of the national healthcare needs. Everyone is aware that people are living longer than ever before, but an ageing population has major implications on the health service; health systems are crippled under rising costs; and there’s a greater demand for services due to the new technologies and treatments available. The nurse role has had to develop to assist in the provision of health care in this context.
One such expansion has lead to what is called Advanced Clinical Practice. It was the government who wanted to find solutions to the challenges listed above, wanting to improve the quality and safety of patients’ care, as well as the effectiveness of a joined-up health care system, whilst being aware of cost limitations. National policy was then focused on expanding the nursing role, and radically changed the way nurses are trained and what they are allowed to cover under their scope of work.
Advanced Clinical Practice describes the role of extremely skilled healthcare professionals, usually educated to Masters level, who have widened their knowledge and skills to have more input into diagnosing, assessing and treating patients. These Advanced Clinical Practitioners might crop up in any field, such as emergency medical services (in hospitals, or as paramedics), pharmacy, ward nursing, or therapies for the elderly, disabled or children.
What is the role of the Advanced Nurse Practitioner?
The Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) does not have the same role as a doctor, but is trained to such a high standard that they can often easily step in as a substitute. As the UK faces a shortage of GPs, this is a very important and vital role, with huge levels of autonomy and responsibility. Within the law, there is very little that ANP’s cannot do, but usually they deal with patients with a lower medical complexity than a doctor would.
When employed in a hospital or clinical setting, the ANP is there to deliver a service using their highly developed knowledge, using the most effective resources. Initially, they will be taking accurate patient medical histories, which they will then analyse alongside the current symptoms, to reach an informed diagnosis. This work often happens by the ANP alone in many cases.
ANP’s are often trained as nurse prescribers, so they can also provide treatment to patients and are able to discharge patients, along with giving out health advice and directions for follow-up. Sometimes this includes making referrals to specialist doctors, or acute care providers. They can also deal with wound management and carry out ECG procedures.
Opportunities for a talented, qualified Advanced Nurse Practitioners
Are you on the look out for a great opportunity in the UK? The East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours team are currently recruiting Advanced Nurse Practitioners across various locations in East Berkshire.