Although many visit nurses and physicians only when they feel ill or have urgent problems, it’s always worthwhile for patients of all ages to regularly attend general checkups and appraisals. Unfortunately, no one knows what’s going on in their bodies – and once you’re in pain, it becomes a struggle to deal with problems that have built up over time.
Thankfully, family nurse practitioners (FNPs) can help patients in their communities with complete examinations that help to find any potential unforeseen issues. These are called comprehensive health appraisals or annual checkups.
What are health appraisals?
When it comes to individual patients, a health appraisal, or health assessment, is a comprehensive appointment that determines a person’s overall well-being.
To complete this type of assessment, an FNP or nurse will gather as much information as possible about a patient, including general details about their medical history, their lifestyle, and potential risk factors in their lives.
A health appraisal aims to provide an overview of a person’s health, identify potential health issues or risks, and promote health and well-being using preventive measures.
During a healthcare appraisal, nurses will gather data about a patient’s medical history, and their family medical history should also factor in.
Then, there is a general physical examination to assess the vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature – and to see any visible signs of health issues that need immediate attention.
Then, there is a complete lifestyle assessment. The patient’s general lifestyle comes under scrutiny, including their diet, exercise routines, sleep patterns, smoking, alcohol consumption, and substance use.
Other examinations can include a physical fitness assessment, a mental health assessment, and a medication and immunization review.
How can FNPs use health appraisals?
Health appraisals are infinitely useful for FNPs, especially when promoting better habits across a community and lifestyle choices from person to person.
While FNPs can handle emergency and ad-hoc cases when they arise, they can use health appraisals in several ways to prevent such occasions from occurring in the future.
Let’s look at a few ways that FNPs can use health appraisals to help individual patients and, by effect, their wider communities.
FNPs can get an objective insight into the patient’s current health
FNPs use health appraisals to get an insight into their patient’s health status. Bringing together information regarding their lifestyle choices, current medication, and family medical history allows the FNP to understand better their patients’ health status and what they need to focus on.
The objective information these appraisals provide is extremely useful when FNPs might not be able to trust the word of their patients – some, for example, might be embarrassed talking about specific issues.
FNPs can better understand potential health risks and current issues
Health appraisals can also help FNPs to identify possible underlying health risks from patient to patient.
By assessing their family’s medical history, lifestyle, and habits, they can take preventive care measures and potentially prevent unseen issues from worsening.
FNPs can then use the information they glean from each patient to get a clearer idea of what’s happening in the wider community. They can look at overall data and assess whether or not there is a health crisis that requires wider attention.
For example, a spate of sexually transmitted infections could mean that the community stands to benefit from greater awareness of safe sex measures.
FNPs can help patients with their medication.
Health appraisals can further help FNPs understand how medication affects certain patients and whether or not they need any specific support.
For example, overall health checks allow FNPs to see how current medication affects the whole of a patient’s body. The patient in question might need help learning how to use said medication properly, or they might need to change their course of medicine completely.
While studying BSN to FNP programs, such as those available at Carson-Newman University, FNPs in training will learn about sensitive moments in individual care, such as medication management. However, they will also work with pharmaceutical specialists to boost their knowledge.
The course available at Carson-Newman helps BSN graduates move into FNP roles as they can understand the importance of all-over health checks.
FNPs can make referrals.
Sometimes, FNPs may find that their patients need more specialized care for certain conditions. It is then up to them to refer their patients to adequate professionals and monitor their care as they go on.
Ultimately, health appraisals allow FNPs to ensure more personalized and curated care for each patient based on their needs, conditions, and history. In doing so, they can optimize positive patient outcomes.
Why are FNP healthcare appraisals beneficial for a mentally healthy community?
Appraisals can also be incredibly beneficial for individual mental health and the wider community. For instance, FNPs and mental health counselors can work together to assess specific patient needs.
Let’s examine why appraisals are equally important for mental and physical health.
FNPs identify mental health issues more quickly.
Appraisals can reveal early signs and risks for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and also for substance abuse disorders. Finding such issues early on allows healthcare providers to act quickly and offer the best mental health support.
FNPs can tailor custom plans.
Personalized care plans for patients go beyond their physical health. Quality healthcare appraisals allow FNPs to make customized care plans that can factor in the patient’s mental health needs.
This includes reviewing the effects of medication on their bodies, emotional states, and general mental health and suggesting lifestyle changes that encourage healthier minds over time.
FNPs empower patients and reduce stigma.
Even today, there is still a stigma around mental health and its importance. So, by considering it during comprehensive health appraisals, FNPs encourage patients to take an active role in managing their mental health and help reduce the associated stigma.
Are comprehensive health appraisals right for everyone?
Everyone benefits from individual, comprehensive health appraisals. On a broader community basis, the healthier the individuals are, the better informed a neighborhood is.
Thankfully, people don’t have to second-guess their health when there’s fantastic FNP support available to help them keep check on their bodies and minds!