Submitted by HCR–ManorCare: Heartland Health Care and ManorCare Health Services
Including nurse practitioners as part of the extended care team is proving to be quite beneficial in the rehabilitation and recovery of their patients. The increasing numbers of more diverse patients recovering from an illness or injury at extended care facilities has allowed these residential recovery and rehabilitation centers to distinguish themselves from the traditional nursing home setting by offering a full range of services and staff specialists in one location. In addition, the primary focus of the extended care facility and the entire medical support staff is returning the patient home to as normal a life as possible. To help in that goal, some extended care facilities now include resident nurse practitioners as part of their patient care team.
Krystle Jaeger, Regional Director of Operations for Heartland and ManorCare skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, has multiple full time nurse practitioners as part of her staff. “They see our high risk patients for readmission, they respond to any clinical changes of current patients, and they also look at our new admissions and help to determine the stability of the patient as they’re coming into the building.”
A nurse practitioner is a Registered Nurse (RN) who has graduate level education. Most nurse practitioners have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and have completed an approved Nurse Practitioner program at the master’s level in college. Following that, the Nurse Practitioner takes a Certification Exam for their particular area of expertise. These can include Acute Care, Adult Nursing Care, Geriatrics, or in the case of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurses, Midwives, or Nurse Anesthetists.
This advanced education and certification allows nurse practitioners to perform some of the services a doctor would normally do, and that an RN is not certified to do. These include physical examinations, ordering and interpreting tests such as EKGs or lab tests, prescribing medication, and many other functions and roles.
Ms. Jaeger also sees the benefits of these skilled medical specialists to compliment the physician’s care plan. “The nurse practitioner’s advanced skills also serve as an effective backup for the physician, who can rely on the nurse practitioner to not only notice even subtle changes in the patient’s condition but respond to them quickly and with greater ability than the regular nursing staff can provide. They act as an extension of the physician, and having that capability in the facility can often make the difference in a patient’s recovery.”
By noticing changes in a patient’s condition early, and being able to respond quickly, there is less chance that a small problem will become a major setback to recovery, or a reason for another hospital stay. “The nurse practitioner has been a wonderful advocate” says Ms. Jaeger. “From the nurses standpoint, it’s the next level of expertise there to help them as they’re looking at clinical changes in their patients. But even more importantly, the patients and the families are really confident when they know there is someone with the next level of expertise right there in the building should they need them.”
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