How Nurse Practitioners Can Help Address Health Disparities?

Nurse Practitioners

The recent pandemic shook the core of the healthcare system, and it awakened a new sense of
responsibility in the authority figures. Policymakers realized the ever-growing gap between health
services and access to them. They joined heads to develop ideas to bridge it. The presence of health
disparities due to social determinants of health issues is not helping much either because they hinder
the provision of health equity across the community.

Healthcare workers like nurse practitioners continue to play an integral role in structuring the system to
benefit patients. They ensure that the patients’ quality and span of life are improved through proper
channeling of caregiving services. Their primary focus has always been to provide holistic care, tending
to their physical and psychological wellbeing. Nurses can change the system through their
determination towards work, which we couldn’t have expected from any other clinical employee. But,
how do nurse practitioners help address health disparities? Let’s have a look:

1. Maintain Leadership

It is a well-known fact that nursing education is extensive. Practitioners are constantly climbing up the
ladder of educational and clinical expertise to expand their career scope. When they achieve new heights, they maintain their leadership and keep their minds open to new ideas and technologies that
might help them improve the system. We have seen an increase in nursing students pursuing master’s
education to expand their skill set and take leadership roles. Programs like MSN and DNP have enabled
many to understand the healthcare system’s ongoing dynamics, needs, and wants.

Family nurse practitioners, especially, are vital to the cause because they can choose a broader role than nurse practitioners. RNs could go for online MSN FNP programs. As virtual education helps them flexibly
manage their work-life balance and continue proper education with professionalism. Nurse leaders
maintain networks within and outside the healthcare centers and structure new policies to deal with
health disparities. They are not hesitant to bring issues regarding inequality to the authority figures and
encourage them to make decisions favoring the patients.

2. Recognize the Issues

Being aware of the problem is the primary step towards eradicating it. Hence, nurse practitioners should
first become aware of the health disparities around them to address them efficiently. Health disparity is
a kind of health difference associated with social, environmental, and economic disadvantages. These
disparities negatively impact individuals who face social barriers because of their race, ethnicity,
religion, financial situation, mental health, gender, physical or sensory handicap, geographic location,
sexual orientation, or age.

Being different in these aspects sometimes excludes these individuals from
attaining quality care and often discriminates them from what society believes is normal. Hence,
recognition and awareness of these issues will lead to the development of cultural competency in nurse
practitioners
by enabling them to become more reflective about their perceptions. It helps them
become more respectful and attentive, conducive to learning better about different patients and their
different needs.

3. Build Trust

Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare system. They know how to maintain solid and empathetic
relationships with their patients. Their sincerity towards providing them with holistic care helps them
become trustworthy in their patients’ eyes. Hence, they understand them better than their physicians.
This quality of theirs allows them to cater to social disparities, as well. Nurses partner up with
communities and families of the patients to understand their social influences.

They are in a constant learning cycle and present themselves with humility to make the experience more satisfying for their patients. It allows them to overcome many problems like language barriers, financial constraints, accessibility, and availability of healthcare services. They show eagerness to learn more for their patients and remove social differences by enhancing their cultural knowledge. They often take up new online courses and help from cultural liaisons who help them become better equipped. They seek
culturally diverse experiences to expand their horizons and become better and more confident in what
they do.

4. Attain Cultural Perspective

Achieving the sense of cultural competency can help bring about positive change in the healthcare
system, especially in cross-culture situations that arise due to health disparities. Nurses are culturally
competent to challenge their own beliefs yet work efficiently in the organization outside the context of
their values. It helps them understand the integrated needs of a diverse group of people and cater to
them effectively. While working within the system, nurse practitioners ensure that their actions bring respect and acceptance for different individuals under their care.

They encourage their organization’s policymakers to cater to these sensitive challenges and support diversity to become familiar with health equity. They take up numerous opportunities to represent disadvantaged individuals by listening to them and understanding them. They recognize their strengths and weaknesses as a community and work towards increasing health outcomes for them. Through thorough research, analytics, understanding, and evaluation, they develop new ways to make them feel comfortable at the hospital.

5. Form Safe Environment

A safe and trustworthy environment of care is the right of every patient, despite their social disparities.
Health equity ensures that everyone has equal access to healthcare services and nurse practitioners
work towards making this a reality. They know the patients even better than their physicians, which
means they know how to comfort them and treat them.

Nurse practitioners allow their patients to heal holistically, which means their physical wellbeing and their psychological health. It enables them to live a healthier lifestyle and treat illnesses before they start to affect them adversely. They encourage their patients to become more self-aware to become more independent in taking care of themselves. Nurses also help families and close friends of patients understand their needs and improve the overall status of the healthcare system. They do all of this without discriminating based on social disparities. Hence, they play a vital role in bringing positive change.

Conclusion

Conclusively, healthcare workers, such as nurse practitioners, are lifelong learners, enabling them to
become better at cultural competency. It helps them make a safe and empowering environment at their
workplace to provide a satisfactory clinical experience to their patients. They tend to their patients to
heal holistically so that their overall quality of lifestyle becomes better and educate them regarding self-
care. And lastly, nurses build a relationship with their patients to understand their needs better and
then convey those to higher authorities to bring a positive change in the system.