A palliative care nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse that has furthered his or her education to include the ability to evaluate, diagnose, and treat an illness or condition. In addition to holding a standard nurse practitioner license, these nurses receive specialized education and must pass a certification exam that demonstrates their ability to diagnose and treat a vast array of illnesses, as well as care for children in palliative care. With their general nursing skills in tandem with their specialized knowledge, nurse practitioners serve as an invaluable component of the palliative care team. Through their assistance and support, children who receive palliative care are better able to cope with, and recover from, serious illnesses that threaten their well-being.
What Do Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners Do?
In general, pediatric palliative care nurse practitioners assess patient needs and diagnose health concerns. They develop treatment plans to relieve pain, nausea, and breathing difficulties and arrange for these plans to be implemented with medication and other resources. Nurse practitioners may also recommend spiritual and emotional support, such as counseling.
Nurse practitioners in this field visit patients to identify their needs and take the appropriate actions. This can include conducting physical examinations, asking questions, and getting feedback from other members of the care team. Because each patient’s needs will vary based on their condition, the needs of a single person can vary daily, and as a result, the nurse practitioner’s own schedule will likely vary as well.
Throughout the course of a day, a nurse practitioner may administer medication, order new tests or treatments, and spend time talking with the child and their family. They may also help manage the child’s pain and address other symptoms while helping them feel at ease, or light-heartedly talk with them about how they feel. This can give the nurse practitioner valuable information that can inform future treatments and give them a sense of what needs to be changed or addressed moving forward.
The Benefits of Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners
Pediatric palliative care nurse practitioners provide many benefits to their patients. Most importantly, they are able to monitor the patient’s condition and take appropriate steps to help them manage their pain and other symptoms. Nurse practitioners can also perform home visits which can eliminate the need for trips to the hospital. With the help of a nurse practitioner who understands how to best diagnose and treat your child’s illness, your child will be better able to recover from their illness, while receiving medical treatment that is uniquely tailored for them, their needs and how they feel.
Nurse practitioners are also important sources of information. Parents often find themselves responsible for guiding their child through an illness that they may know little about, and can be overwhelmed in the process. Nurse practitioners help educate parents, siblings, and other family members about what to expect and how to best care for their loved one. This helps the child receive better care and can ease the stress of family members.
If your child is receiving palliative care, don’t be shy about asking the nurse practitioner any questions you may have. A nurse practitioner will like be provide you with the answer, or direct you to additional resources to learn more.
Perhaps the most important advantage of nurse practitioners is their ability to clearly articulate your child needs to the remaining members of the palliative care team. In this way, palliative care nurses act as advocates on your child’s behalf, helping to improve their level of care and address what they think is most vital to their wellbeing. By keeping other palliative care team members informed regarding your child’s changing conditions, as well as any potential concerns they need to look out for, palliative nurses ensure that your child’s needs are addressed first and foremost.
Find Out More About Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners
Speak to KidsCare of the Rockies for more information about the role nurse practitioners play in pediatric palliative care services. Nurse practitioners at KidsCare work alongside doctors, therapists, child life specialists, and palliative care team members to implement customized care plans to treat your child’s illness and address their mental, physical and spiritual needs. Contact KidsCare of the Rockies to learn more about palliative care nurses who make palliative care possible.