What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?
A nurse practitioner (commonly abbreviated NP) is basically a registered nurse who completed more advanced nursing studies and specialized in some nursing area – such as family practice, pediatrics, oncology etc. NP studies should include a higher nursing degree, either a master’s degree or doctoral degree, and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions in the area of specialty, including chronic illnesses, as well as a few more complex medical conditions.
In practice, many nurse practitioners serve as their patient’s “point of entry” to the health care system, and should know how to take their patient’s comprehensive history, administer physical exams, order tests and therapies, provide prescriptions and coordinate referrals, and treat both acute and chronic conditions within their respective scope. A very important part of their job is to know how to treat their patient as an individual, focusing on the patients’ medical condition as well as how they affect their lives and their families. They should also inform their patients about their conditions and help them to participate in decision-making about their treatment.
Nurse practitioners may also take part or conduct researches, and will usually emphasize disease prevention, reduction of health risk and patient education.
Nurse practitioners will often share office space with doctors, and provide the primary care in the office. Others will work in community clinics, health centers or nursing homes. Some NPs prefer working in a more private setting – in schools (private or public), universities and colleges. Yet others will be working in hospitals.
There is a very high demand for nurse practitioners, and there are a lot of career opportunities for individuals who would like to pursue this career. According to the American Nurses Association, 60-80% of primary and preventive care can be performed by nurse practitioners. As the emphasis on prevention and public health continues to grow, excellent job opportunities for NPs are created in an ongoing basis.
NPs are regulated in two different levels: Their professional education is certified through
national organizations (such as American Nurses’ Association, Pediatric Nursing Certification Board,
and others), which regulate consistent professional standards across all USA states. The nurse
practitioner license is regulated at the state level, under state law.
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Nurse Practitioner Specialties:
NP Specialties may be the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
Nurse Practitioner Programs
Nurse practitioner programs are designed for registered nurses interested in pursuing an advanced
practice nursing role as a nurse practitioner. Students enhance themselves both personally and
professionally while learning principles of clinical research and application to advanced practice as
a nurse practitioner in their chosen specialization or concentration. These programs are offered in many
universities throughout the USA. Upon completion, students may be awarded either a
Master of Science in
Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. MSN Nurse practitioner programs take around
two years to complete and often implement online course options to allow a more flexible option for
completing their study.