A few new courses for Advance Practice RNs have appeared on the Nursing CE.com site and more are in the process of being published. These courses have been designed specifically with APRNs in mind. The APRN credential is considered separate from the RN licensure and must be renewed separately as required by rules specific to each state. With the population aging and needing more medical care, the shortage of physicians is being addressed with appropriately prepared RNs. The expanded practice focused nursing categories are Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Midwives.
Scope of Practice for APRNs
Nurse Practitioners provide primary, acute, and specialty health care that covers the lifespan of the patient. Their practice involves assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of illnesses and injuries along with patient education to prevent chronic disease and improve outcomes. NPs in most states are able to prescribe medications and may also be allowed to practice without physician oversight or supervision. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists provide a full range of services involving pain management and anesthesia. Clinical Nurse Specialists provide diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of patients to ensure use of best practices and evidence-based care to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. They also provide expertise to educate and support nurses caring for their patients. Certified Nurse-Midwives provide primary, obstetrical, gynecological, and other reproductive health care primarily to women.
The minimal educational requirement for an APRN credential is a master’s degree or a post master’s certification in specific areas of nursing. However, the recent trends have been to encourage a doctoral degree for advance practice nurses. Continuing education is essential to nurses at all levels. Nursing is a lifelong learning experience. The first four topics in the APRN continuing education line are osteoporosis, seizures and epilepsy, tickborne diseases and psychotic disorders. More are in production and should be available on the website soon.
Preview of the APRN Osteoporosis Course
Osteoporosis is a chronic disease characterized by low bone density. APRNs need to have the education and knowledge base to provide a keen awareness of the presence of osteoporosis and risk factors. It can be prevented when caught early on in the osteopenia stage and even before with thorough history including chronic and familial diseases and a workup with laboratory studies and a Dual-energy Xray absorptiometry (DXA) test. Poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and excessive use of alcohol and caffeine contribute to bone density loss. Menopause and similar changes in testosterone levels in men can severely affect bone loss. Women are naturally predisposed to osteoporosis.
Bone loss itself is silent and painless. Chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease increase the risk as do acute illnesses such as cancer. Malabsorption and celiac disease is another risk factor. Medications such as steroids and some hormones and hormone blocking agents can cause bone loss as can drugs such as chemotherapeutic drugs. Low calcium and vitamin D levels are often indicative of osteopenia brewing. Age is also a factor. Children and young adults are growing and producing bone rapidly, but as we all age, bone production slows down and bones can become porous, weak and brittle.
Weak and brittle bones can develop asymptomatically, and this puts patients at increased risk of fracture. Over 2 million broken bones each year are attributed to weak and brittle bones. The most vulnerable are the hips, wrists and vertebrae. These injuries dramatically increase the cost of health care and lead to increased mortality. Twenty percent of those who fracture a hip will die within a year from complications.
Acute awareness of risk factors and monitoring laboratory values can help prevent or manage osteoporosis along with diet and exercise plans to prevent falls and injury. This continuing education course is designed to inform and educate the APRN to increase their awareness and utilize screening measures to prevent disease and complications.