The Role of a Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse that has obtained additional education or training and has become an advanced practice nurse (APN) also known as a nurse practitioner. There are many different roles of APNs like CRNAs, CMNs and CNSs. To become a licensed nurse practitioner you must hold a national certificate in a specialty area such as family, women’s health or acute care, to name a few. Nurse Practitioners are not only certified on a national level but get licensed through a state nursing board as well, not to be confused with a medical board.

Nurse Practitioner Philosophy

At the core of the nurse practitioner jobs is the philosophy of individual care for patients. They treat both physical and mental conditions by focusing on the patient’s condition and how it affects their daily life and those around them. They not only want to treat what is wrong but also find the cause and create a path to wellness by educating the patient on healthy life choices. Nurses often conduct research through patient history, physical exams, tests or therapies and are advocates for their patients within the health care system.

Education and Expected Salary

To be a licensed nurse practitioner you must first become a registered nurse and then complete the next level in the educational program. This process can take upwards of four to six years to complete depending on the school and how many hours you are taking per semester. Time is usually split between the class room and hands-on practice.

Once you have completed the graduate level NP program you must then pass a national board certification in the specialty of your choice. Most states require a minimum education level of a master’s degree to be a nurse practitioner, but the good news is that most programs offered at colleges and universities build this into their program. so you will be able to complete all the requirements as you complete your degree.

If you currently have an AA degree or diploma in nursing but want to become a nurse practitioner, you can either complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to catch up or find a bridge program like ADN to MN/MSN to meet the requirements.

Once you have obtained a job as a nurse practitioner in the health care system you can expect to make somewhere in the range of $60,000 – $90,000 annually. This amount fluctuates depending on which state you live in, the amount of your annual bonuses as well as any profit sharing options you may choose to take advantage of.

Scope of Nurse Practitioner Jobs

In the USA you can be trained and certified on a national level in areas such as Family Health (FNP), Pediatrics (PNP), which included acute and chronic care as well as pediatric oncology, Psychiatry and Mental Health (PMHNP), Adult Health (ANP), Gerontology (GNP), Women’s Health (WHNP), Oncology (ONP) Neonatology (NNP), Occupational Health (ANP) and Emergency (FNP or ACNP).

The nurse practitioner profession is a state-regulated one and responsibilities and capabilities can drastically differ from state to state. While in some states nurse practitioners work independently, in other states they must collaborate and agree with a physician in order to practice.

Roles of a Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioners roles include but are not limited to:

  • Evaluating, diagnosing and treating illnesses and diseases, both chronic and acute
  • Conducting exams, both physical and mental
  • Suggesting and performing routine lab tests and reviewing all results
  • Ordering physical therapy or other treatments when needed
  • Prescribing prescriptions drugs when necessary
  • Providing specialty care as well maintenance care such as annual physicals for all patients
  • Educating patients on treatment options and symptoms related to specific life health choices and self-care skills

Institutions that employ nurse practitioners include hospitals, clinics, urgent care facilities, hospice care, nursing homes, private and public medical offices, schools, universities, colleges and many public health departments.

The health care industry is always looking for educated individuals to work in a wide variety of jobs. Becoming a nurse practitioner can open many doors to you and allow you to work in many avenues of the nursing world.


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