Certified Nurse Practitioners and Their Roles Research Paper

This paper examines the clinical and non-clinical roles of Certified Nurse Practitioners. To illustrate how these theoretical issues correlate with practice and health care services improvement, the summaries of two research papers and an expert opinion article are given.

Health care is one of the essential spheres that requires advanced knowledge and multiple skills from every employee. In this context, the role of a certified nurse practitioner (CNP) is hard to overestimate. To prevent disorders of any kind, treat patients, and achieve National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs), they perform various duties.

This paper examines the clinical and non-clinical roles of Certified Nurse Practitioners. To illustrate how these theoretical issues correlate with practice and health care services improvement, the summaries of two research papers and an expert opinion article are given. Finally, the conclusions concerning the role of certified nurse practitioners in health care services delivery are made.

The Main Roles of Certified Nurse Practitioner

A certified nurse practitioner is a licensed, advanced practice registered nurse who has completed a prescribed educational program that helps would-be specialists acquire the necessary knowledge and develop skills in assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management (Independent practice, 2013). It is possible to single out clinical and non-clinical roles. While the former refers to direct patient care, the latter covers the spheres of education and management.

Clinical Roles of CNPs

Within the clinical environment, the primary responsibility of certified nurse practitioners is to provide persons and groups with direct care according to the level of their educational training and national certification. Initially, the Certified Nurse Practitioner role occurred in primary care settings (Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O’Grady, 2013). Certified Nurse Practitioners are those who carry out an assessment, patient treatment, and care activities either individually or in cooperation with other health care specialists, for instance, physicians.

The majority of NPSGs pertains to CNPs’ work in clinical situations. For example, safe medicine usage depends on how a CNP establishes procedures and documents information. Another NPSG of paramount importance is to prevent infection. As CNPs frequently contact patients, they must seek for services enhancement: hand cleaning must be improved, and proven guidelines to prevent various types of infections must be used (National Patient Safety Goals, 2016). Thus, the clinical roles of CNPs in treatment preparation and medical intervention are numerous.

Non-Clinical Roles of CNPs

In comparison with clinical responsibilities, non-clinical roles are more diverse. Many Certified Nurse Practitioners conduct research connected, as a rule, with their practice, or assist in research. Another significant role is organizational: a nurse practitioner often coordinates clinical data and regulates different details. These roles are reflected in the National Patient Safety Goals. One of them is to identify patients correctly: information about each patient is supposed to be properly organized. Another example is to improve staff communication: all necessary information should be delivered to the right staff member (National Patient Safety Goals, 2016). Generally speaking, non-clinical issues help CNPs and other health care specialists perform their duties in the clinical environment better.

Research Article 1 Summary

The article by Spencer and Hanania (2013) discusses the current trends in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medical treatment and simultaneously addresses the role of Certified Nurse Practitioners in the management of patients. The authors emphasize that, in the context of this disease, one of the presumably effective strategies is to strengthen Certified Nurse Practitioners’ role. It is demonstrated that treatment and care are common for nurse practitioners, but instructing patients is not familiar.

The key idea of this article is the necessity to engage patients in the ongoing dialog; thus, the role of Certified Nurse Practitioners becomes crucial. First of all, the authors describe the traditional role of nurse practitioners as care deliverers and identify their responsibilities: diagnosis, primary care, monitoring, and health assessment.

Further, they give information about the less known practices, such as educating patients with COPD on the nature of their disease and self-monitoring of the symptoms, instructing them how to use various devices, and designing a medication administration schedule for an individual (Spencer & Hanania, 2013). According to the research, CNPs rarely fulfill these tasks. Finally, it is stated that the anticipatory approach is important. Under these circumstances, Certified Nurse Practitioners are not only health care providers but also consultants and educators.

Research Article 2 Summary

The article by Kerfoot (2015) sheds light on non-clinical issues: management and organization. The author intends to explore how health care providers and nurse practitioners in particular experience the shift from traditional thinking to a data-driven decision and what difficulties they encounter. Although modern technologies significantly help in some spheres, it is still urgent to take into account the importance of opinion-based decisions.

The author draws attention to the gap between the best innovations that are brought to clinics and nurses’ experience and skills. She explains the problems that most specialists face by the fact that intelligent systems are relatively new, and many professionals are not used to them because they did not have an opportunity to learn how to facilitate them. Still, it is impossible to exclude innovations from the decision-making process because of the complexity of making data-driven assignments (Kerfoot, 2015). Thus, a nurse practitioner should act as a leader who will be able to implement changes and help other specialists use new technologies.

Expert Opinion Article Summary

Nowadays, certified nurse practitioners face several barriers in their practice than influence health care redesign: Hain and Fleck (2014) consider these obstacles in their article. Both authors are experts in nursing. Dr. Hain is a nurse practitioner at Cleveland Clinic Florida, Department of Nephrology, with 29 years of nursing experience; Dr. Fleck is the owner of a family practice serving over 7,000 patients (Hain & Fleck, 2014).

In the present article, the authors express the opinion that, in the nowadays setting, Certified Nurse Practitioners act as patient advocators, and this role is becoming more and more significant. However, there are several barriers: legal issues, physician-related barriers, and payer policies are common (Hain & Fleck, 2014). Given the fact that the shortage of health professionals is urgent, it is a nurse practitioner whose role will become fundamental. Thus, it is necessary to improve the system and make it easier for nurses to perform their duties in terms of their legal rights and care organization. According to the article, nurse practitioners are to improve the health outcomes of a diverse population (Hain & Fleck, 2014). Thus, it is essential to ensure that Certified Nurse Practitioners face as few problems as possible.


To sum up, the roles of certified nurse practitioners are nowadays numerous. In the clinical environment, they interact with patients directly, assess their health, do check-ups, order and perform various tests, provide primary and specialty care services, and treat patients. The role of educators is also important: Certified Nurse Practitioners explain to patients how they should behave to reduce risks and help use different devices. In a non-clinical setting, Certified Nurse Practitioners are researchers and administrators who organize work and improve the quality of services. Finally, they are patients’ advocators. Despite the current problems in this sphere, this tendency is increasing. Overall, Certified Nurse Practitioners will continue to play several roles in the future.


Hain, D., & Fleck, L. (2014). Barriers to nurse practitioner practice that impact healthcare redesignOJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(2).

Hamric, A. B., Hanson, C. M., Tracy, M. F., & O’Grady, E. T. (2013). Advanced practice nursing: An integrative approach. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Independent practice & the certified nurse practitioner. (2013).

Kerfoot, K. M. (2015). Intelligently managed data: Achieving excellence in nursing care. Nursing Economics, 33(6), 342-343.

National Patient Safety Goals. (2016).

Spencer, P., & Hanania, N. A. (2013). Optimizing safety of COPD treatments: Role of the nurse practitioner. The Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 6, 53-63.

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