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5 things to know about nurse practitioners

If you’ve used TELUS Health Virtual Care for a virtual medical consult, you’ve probably already connected with one of our Nurse Practitioners (NPs) — 40% of our clinicians have this designation, but a lot of Canadians don’t know a lot about what an NP does or can do.

Did you know that Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are specialists with advanced education and clinical experience? All of our clinicians are Canadian and licensed to practice within the provinces and territories where they work, but NPs can practice medicine autonomously, write prescriptions, make referrals and diagnose and treat illness holistically.

Here are five things to know about Nurse Practitioners:

1. They have advanced education and clinical experience. Prospective Nurse Practitioners must complete a four-year nursing degree and have a minimum of two years of clinical experience as Registered Nurses (in most jurisdictions). Successful NP candidates then complete an additional two years of full-time education and must pass their NP examinations in order to practice.

2.They can practice autonomously. As independent practitioners, NPs provide a wide range of general medical advice in areas including pregnancy-related concerns, pediatric growth and development questions, over-the-counter medication guidance, travel medicine, sun safety questions, and general patient education. They can also triage all symptoms appropriately.

3. They can write prescriptions, request imaging and lab work, and make referrals. Nurse Practitioners can provide new prescriptions for the treatment of a wide range of issues, such as infections, mental health concerns, blood pressure and cholesterol management, osteoarthritis, dermatological issues, and more. They can also refill existing prescription (excluding narcotics) made by other healthcare professionals.NPs can also complete referrals for medical imaging (x-ray, ultrasounds, etc.), and specialists (neurologists, physiotherapists, dermatologists, cardiologists, etc.), as well as request lab work and analyze results. When appropriate, in-person consultations are recommended prior to referrals; some of those instances include MRIs and CT scans.

4. They specialize in managing chronic conditions and conducting holistic health assessments. Nurse Practitioner education focuses on the management of chronic conditions and holistic health assessment, including screening for risk, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of illnesses, as well as health promotion. This robust training makes NPs an excellent first line of defence against illness and disease.Like many health practitioners, NPs can have various specialties such as mental health, pediatrics, travel medicine, and acute care. TELUS Health Virtual Care’s NPs work closely together, lean on each other’s specialties, and consult with the team’s in-house specialists to provide the best possible care to their patients.

5. They provide all types of support. TELUS Health Virtual Care’s team of Nurse Practitioners provide a broad range of support for Canadians when they need it the most. Trained to have a holistic approach, they consider every factor when providing a diagnosis and treatment plan. Many of the NPs available on TELUS Health’s virtual care solution specialize in helping patients suffering from depression and anxiety through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques and identifying community resources. Nurse Practitioners take care of their patients to the fullest extent, providing general medical advice, writing prescriptions or referrals, and following up with patients a few days later to see how they are doing or how their medication is working. TELUS Health Virtual Care’s team of NPs provide a level of care that consistently earns positive, grateful feedback from patients across the country.

“Each step was easy and seamless, and each health professional I dealt with was caring, considerate and extremely helpful. To get a referral, lab work and then results all within three days is quite awesome. I was able to cancel a medical appointment with my family physician and thus not take time off work or spend a ton of time travelling to and waiting at the clinic!  The best part is that I now have peace of mind regarding this issue – I know I am in good hands!” - Kim G., Ontario