What Does a Hospitalist Nurse Practitioner Do?

Kristie Lorette

A hospitalist nurse practitioner works as an advanced nurse in a hospital setting. Nurse practitioners are trained as nurses, but they have more advanced degrees than registered nurses (RN). The advanced degrees of hospitalist nurse practitioners allow them to perform duties that traditional nurses are not able to do. In short, a nurse practitioner is somewhere between a nurse and a doctor.

Hospitalist nurse practitioners have advanced training and can order diagnostic tests and other procedures.
Hospitalist nurse practitioners have advanced training and can order diagnostic tests and other procedures.

A patient will often meet with a hospitalist nurse practitioner when they first arrive at the hospital to determine their health concerns. This includes discussing the health history of the patient and performing an examine on the patient. A hospitalist nurse practitioner is also able to order any tests or other procedures to help diagnose the patient’s problem.

A hospitalist nurse practitioner is allowed to perform duties that a traditional nurse is not.
A hospitalist nurse practitioner is allowed to perform duties that a traditional nurse is not.

Using the information from the physical exam or the test results, the hospitalist nurse practitioner may be able to diagnose the patient. Once the patient has been diagnosed, the hospitalist nurse practitioner can also prescribe medication or refer the patient to a specialist who can treat the specific disease, illness or problem the patient is having. Some states prohibit the nurse practitioner from writing prescriptions, so this a state by state law.

Hospitalist nurse practitioners typically work in conjunction with other medical professionals on a health care team.
Hospitalist nurse practitioners typically work in conjunction with other medical professionals on a health care team.

A hospitalist nurse practitioner typically works as part of a medical team. The team is made up of a primary doctor, residents, nurses and even other nurse practitioners. The team supports one another in diagnosing, treating and caring for patients in a hospital setting. Each team has its own dynamic and has to work according to the state laws in which each of the medical staff, including the nurse practitioners, obtain their licenses.

Most nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medications.
Most nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medications.

In some cases, the doctors allow the nurse practitioner to do anything that a doctor would normally do. In other situations, the doctor will allow the nurse practitioner to do everything that a doctor would do, but the doctor still comes in at the end of the diagnosis to discuss and sign off on what the nurse practitioner has come up with — just as a second check or diagnosis.

A hospitalist nurse practitioner is a more advanced nurse than a RN.
A hospitalist nurse practitioner is a more advanced nurse than a RN.

Nurse practitioners also act as counselor and advisers for the patient and their families. The counseling and advising tends to be on both a medical and an emotional level. The nurse practitioner gets to know the patient and their families well enough during the patient’s hospital stay to help them understand the illness or disease and their options for treating the disease or illness or caring for the patient to make them as comfortable as possible.

Nurse practitioners have to be able to perform routine check-ups.
Nurse practitioners have to be able to perform routine check-ups.
Discussing a patient's health history is one role of a hospitalist nurse practitioner.
Discussing a patient's health history is one role of a hospitalist nurse practitioner.
A nurse practitioner has a skillset that falls between that of a nurse and that of a doctor.
A nurse practitioner has a skillset that falls between that of a nurse and that of a doctor.

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