Nursing professionals are at the front lines of service provision and play an important role in care focused on people and communities.
In many countries they act as leaders or key members of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary health teams. They provide a wide range of services at all levels of the health care system. However, there is a shortage of nursing professionals in the Region of the Americas; this shortage is primarily attributable to emigration of professionals to other regions, different levels of economic development in the countries, precarious employment conditions, human resource policies for health workers including nurses, and lack of professional regulation.
Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses may be differentiated from other health care providers by their approach to patient care, training, and scope of practice. Nurses practice in many specialties with differing levels of prescription authority. Many nurses provide care within the ordering scope of physicians, and this traditional role has shaped the public image of nurses as care providers. However, nurse practitioners are permitted by most jurisdictions to practice independently in a variety of settings. In the post-war period, nurse education has undergone a process of diversification towards advanced and specialized credentials, and many of the traditional regulations and provider roles are changing.
Nurses develop a plan of care, working collaboratively with physicians, therapists, the patient, the patient’s family and other team members, that focuses on treating illness to improve quality of life. AHO plans to develop nursing to include advanced practice nurses, such as clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, to diagnose health problems and prescribe medications and other therapies. Nurses may help coordinate the patient care performed by other members of a multidisciplinary health care team such as therapists, medical practitioners and dietitians. Nurses provide care both interdependently, for example, with physicians, and independently as nursing professionals.