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Perhaps one of the most useful duties of a nurse practitioner is his or her ability to prescribe drugs. Drug therapy protocols vary from state to state, and the nurse practitioner duties mostly depend on which state he or she is practicing in. An example of a drug therapy protocol is that of Virginia, wherein, “Physicians, dentists, and nurse practitioners with prescriptive authority are the only individuals, other than pharmacists, that are permitted to dispense prescription drugs (providing patients with prescription drugs for take home – self administration) in health departments.

” (Virginia Department of Health, 2007) Nurse practitioners in this state are required to identify in their recommended drug therapy the name of the drug and the form, strength, route of administration, and the dose of the said drug (Virginia Department of Health, 2007). The length or the duration of how long the drug will be administered and its supply should also be included in the identified drug therapy (Virginia Department of Health, 2007). Last but not the least, the duration of the given prescription should also be noted before requiring a follow-up (Virginia Department of Health, 2007).

However, there are other responsibilities of nurse practitioners before being able to prescribe drugs. First off, they have to supervise the actual dispensing of all of their prescribed drugs (Virginia Department of Health, 2007). Albeit the nurse practitioner may not be present while the drugs are being prepared by doing their labels and containers, the nurse practitioner has to present when the prescribed drugs are obtained, even if supervising only (Virginia Department of Health, 2007). This is because he or she must be able to review the final labeled product, and be assured of its accuracy (Virginia Department of Health, 2007).

In addition, he or she is to sign the order, which will verify the responsibility for drug prescription (Virginia Department of Health, 2007). Documentation is also the responsibility of the nurse practitioner when dispensing drugs. He or she must make sure that the drugs dispensed are in tight, light resistant containers (Virginia Department of Health, 2007). If his or her patients requests for a child resistant container, the nurse practitioner should ask the patient to sign the back of the prescription or another document to indicate the request made, this should also be documented (Virginia Department of Health, 2007).

Although these responsibilities of nurse practitioners seem to be heavier and more definitive than the duties of a registered nurse, all of the aforementioned can also be considered their advantage as public health workers. The problem with being just a registered nurse is that one’s world is limited, even if the individual knows that he or she can do more to help treat the patient, he or she knows that such an attempt can be a malpractice on his or her part.

However, if one is a nurse practitioner, one can actually provide a more holistic and individualized care, not to mention cost-effective and quality healthcare, as they do not cost as much as physicians do. Most often, patients are heavily relying on drugs, may they be herbal drugs or not. A nurse practitioner being able to prescribe these drugs will save the patient time, effort, and even money because they would not go consult with the physician anymore just so they can be prescribed drugs.

Moreover, this would allow the nurse practitioner to monitor over their patient’s reaction to the drugs, how they respond to the treatment, and how they can possibly try to implement the same drug regimen, if found effective, to other patients experiencing the same clinical progress. It may be too soon to say that more and more nurse practitioners will be the go-to health care personnel because albeit they can do more than a regular registered nurse can, they still cannot replace physicians.

Nevertheless, because of the modification of their capabilities and the advanced and extensive studies and training that they went through, they are the next best thing to physicians patients have. Nurse practitioners are privileged to be working so related to how physicians do their jobs and the advantage of this is they get to do more, to help more, and helping is a passion for this field more than anything else. References: Delmar Cengage Learning, (2005). Nurse Practitioner.

Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Delmar Cengage Learning Web site: http://www. healthcare. delmar. cengage. com/pdf/careers/Nurse%20Practitioner.pdf Healthcommunities. com, Inc. , (2007). What Is a Nurse Practitioner?. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Women’s Health Channel Web site: http://www. womenshealthchannel. com/nursepractitioner. shtml Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, (2003). Nurse Practitioner Career Overview. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www. mayo. edu/mshs/np-career. html Virginia Department of Health, (2007). Dispensing Drugs . Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Virginia. gov Web site: http://www. vdh. state. va. us/epidemiology/DiseasePrevention/Programs/Pharmacy/Dispensing/index. htm

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