A licensed nurse practitioner (NP) is a highly trained and licensed healthcare professional who holds more responsibility than an RN and other types of nurses. These healthcare professionals can practice on their own, meaning many of their responsibilities are similar to those of physician assistants and medical doctors. According to the AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners), NPs are the fastest-growing sector of primary care providers in the United States, which is why so many individuals interested in healthcare are considering degrees in this field.
Nurse Practitioner Job Description
Nurse practitioners are independent healthcare clinicians who focus on managing patient health conditions, treating injuries and illnesses, and working with patients to support injury and disease prevention.
Due to their additional training, nurse practitioners are seen as leaders in the healthcare industry and may provide similar services to medical doctors. This means patients will find nurse practitioners operating their private healthcare clinicsand specializing in different areas of healthcare. Nurse practitioners may specialize in areas such as family health, gynecology and women’s health, pediatric care, and acute care.
Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of nurse practitioners include:
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries
- Performing physical assessments
- Order tests
- Prescribing medications (if allowed in the state of practice)
- Provide general health guidance
- Collecting samples
- Updating patient charts
- Ordering lab tests, samples, or diagnostic procedures as necessary
- Managing other nurses such as LPNs, RNs, and CNAs
- Performing small medical procedures
Of course, since the breadth of nurse practitioner jobs varies so greatly, so do the day-to-day responsibilities of these medical professionals. For example, a pediatric nurse practitioner in a private practice may spend most of their day working with children and diagnosing things like the common cold. On the other hand, a women’s health nurse practitioner may spend the majority of their days performing pap smears and breast cancer screenings.
Nurse Practitioner Salaries
According to Salary.com, nurse practitioner salaries can range widely based on education, certification, skills, and years spent in the profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average nurse practitioner makes approximately $123,780 per year.
The job outlook for this career is good and many hospitals and care facilities around the country are looking to add nurse practitioners.
- City of Hope is usually hiring for nurse practitioner jobs in Southern California. These jobs are in a variety of departments including, but not limited to, surgery and oncology.
- Dispatch Health Management in Seattle, WA is hiring Family Nurse Practitioners who want to specialize in primary care and family health services.
- Orthopedic Specialists PC in Davenport, IA is looking to hire a Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant for full-time work in their orthopedic medicine office.
Training and Requirements
Becoming an NP requires a commitment to the field of nursing and healthcare and additional training beyond that expected of a registered nurse. In order to apply for any nurse practitioner position, interested individuals need to hold a current RN license through their state. It is most common for individuals interested in this career path to first get their RN license and work for several years to gain experience and determine which area they would want to specialize in as an NP.
Nurses who are interested in becoming nurse practitioners can either pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Of course, a DNP program would give NPs a doctorate in nursing, which is the highest level of education possible and may lead to higher pay and more job opportunities.
After graduating from an accredited program and completing all necessary residency and training programs, graduating students earn their advanced practice nursing licensure in practical nursing. Each state is different and has its unique requirements to become an NP. Nurse.org has detailed licensing requirements by state.
Once passing the licensure exams, NPs are ready to practice and apply for jobs working in their desired healthcare facility.