The Role of the Nurse Practitioner in Mental Health Nursing: Article Analysis

Introduction

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nurses (APN) who undergo rigorous training to prepare them for the tough role of providing primary care to patients. Their main role is to maintain and promote health through diagnosis and treatment of the various diseases and health conditions that affect society (Courtney & McCutcheon, 2010). They usually work in collaboration with physicians. However, they can also work autonomously. The research article selected is titled “The role of the Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing: Exploring Consumer Satisfaction.” The article aims to find out the level of consumer satisfaction about mental health treatment received from nurse practitioners. This paper will evaluate the article to assess its merit and contribution to the nursing profession and practice. The evaluation will comprise an explication of the article’s strengths and weaknesses.

Merit and contribution to nursing practice

Nurse practitioners play an important role in the delivery of health care in different health settings (Courtney & McCutcheon, 2010). Past studies have shown that the quality of care provided by nurse practitioners is equivalent to that provided by physicians. This paper aims to evaluate the level of customer satisfaction in mental health nursing and determine whether the aforementioned argument is right or wrong. The research article begins by describing a short history of the development of the NP’s role in Australia and later moves to current times. This helps the reader to fully comprehend the origin and significance of the NP role in nursing. The information provided in the article is very relevant to the nursing profession because very few research studies have been conducted in the mental health nursing area. Therefore, there is limited literature available regarding the topic (Wortans, Happell, & Johnstone, 2006).

The findings of the study provide vital information that can be used to expand the scope of NPs and improve nursing practice. Critics have argued that allowing nurses to work autonomously could compromise patient safety (White, 2002). However, the results of the study invalidated this claim because the quality of care provided by NPs is equivalent to that provided by physicians (Wortans et al., 2006). The findings also help to demonstrate the great contributions that nurse practitioners make in the various areas of the healthcare system and the need to expand their scope of practice. For instance, nurse practitioners need to be allowed to practice within the psychiatric/mental health area because they provide quality care (White, 2002). The article is invaluable to nursing practice because few studies have been conducted to evaluate the role of nurse practitioners in mental health nursing. Therefore, it can be used as a reference for future studies.

Strengths

One of the strengths of the article is the inclusion of a literature review that discusses several aspects of the topic. The review helps the reader to understand the topic better and connect the results of past studies with the current study. The authors explore the views of different authors that have studied the role of nurse practitioners in the health care field. They also present similar studies that validate their findings. The results of these studies support the argument that NPs provide quality care that leads to great customer satisfaction. Moreover, the article explores research studies conducted in different health care areas to evaluate the role played by nurses. Another strength is the study method applied. The authors used a qualitative approach to conduct the study. This method is very useful especially in situations where there is limited literature concerning a certain research topic. Finally, they used four variables namely referral to medical specialists, prescription of psychotropic medication, diagnostic testing, and authorization of certificates for absence from work (Wortans et al., 2006). These variables made the study extensive because it covered several areas that are under the jurisdiction of physicians.

Weaknesses

The research paper has several weaknesses too. It has a small sample size of seven participants and therefore the results could have been biased. This is a small representative number considering that many people seek mental health care. The findings cannot be generalized to a large population (Wortans et al., 2006). The researchers should have included more participants to make the findings more representative. On the other hand, a large portion of the literature reviewed is from studies conducted many years ago. The authors should have incorporated more recent studies to make the article more academic and up to date. The two researchers conducted the study independently and compiled their findings later. This could have introduced individual biases that originate from personal interpretations and attitudes.

Conclusion

The foregoing review has shown that NPs play an important role in health care delivery. The article presents detailed information that is relevant to nursing practice. An exhaustive literature review, a qualitative study method, and the use of past studies to validate the article strengthen the research paper. On the other hand, the small sample size and the use of a qualitative approach weaken the paper. However, the findings of the study can be used to make certain improvements in the nursing profession.

References

Courtney, M., & McCutcheon, H. (2010). Using Evidence to Guide Nursing Practice. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.

White, L. (2002). Basic Nursing: Foundation of Skills & Concepts. New York, NY: Delmar/Thomson Learning.

Wortans, J., Happell, B., & Johnstone, H. (2006). The Role of the Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing: Exploring Consumer Satisfaction. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 13(1), 78-84.