The Role of the APRN in Pharmacology
An Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) is a highly-skilled nurse who is specially trained to work in the Nursing professional role (NP). APRNs are licensed through the state board of nursing that ensures that the practitioners are skilled and well trained to provide quality health care. APRN is basically an advanced subset of Registered nursing but is licensed independently. NPs are highly trained in different disciplines, including physical assessment, pharmacology, pathophysiology, as well as a clinical diagnosis that equips them with the necessary skills required in making a diagnosis and prescribing the appropriate medication and a treatment plan for their patients.
After decades of research, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) concluded that NPs have the skills and training necessary to provide safe, high quality and affordable health care services. Nursing practitioners had for over 50 years, been providing patients with primary, acute, and specialty health care services.
In August 2019, the AANP handed Nursing practitioners with unrestricted prescriptive authority, which includes the privilege to diagnose and dispense medication within their scope of practice. Prior restrictions on prescriptive authority limited the practitioner’s ability to extend the quality and comprehensive care to the patients. The prescriptive authority may vary from state to state and in reference to the level of degree and specialty and the type of drug in question. Some states grant a larger prescriptive authority to the registered nurses while others monitor and regulate the prescriptive authority strictly.
Advanced practice registered nurses and other nursing practitioners have the legal responsibility to strictly follow ethical guidelines when prescribing medications to their patients to ensure that they are kept safe from any harm. They are required to learn about any new medicines in the market and their possible side effects to avoid prescription errors. They are also required to do comprehensive interviews and obtain a complete list of medications that the patients are currently taking before writing any prescription. By doing so, they are aware of possible interactions and side effects they may have with other drugs and will prescribe the right medication accordingly.
The responsibility of advanced practice registered nurses in pharmacology goes beyond writing a simple prescription correctly. They should understand the interactions and possible effects of all medications. This is particularly important for patients who are under multiple medications. The practitioner should also be aware of rules pertaining to pain medications, writing medications for friends and relatives and other issues relating to medical prescriptions such as the ongoing opioid crisis.