Nurse Practitioner

What is a Nurse Practitioner

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) begins as a certified Registered Nurse (RN) and continues their education with a minimum of a Masters Degree in a specialized field of Nursing. They are also required to continue their education with clinical practice and coursework.

An advantage of this advanced health profession is the ultimate latitude and responsibility a NP has in interacting with patients. They are able to collaborate with physicians and other health professional and can function as a primary care provider. An NP can take medical histories, make diagnostics and prescribe various treatments and medications. In some states, they can function independently without the supervision of a medical doctor or physician.

The focus of a NP is the ongoing, individual care of patients, including prevention, wellness and education, with an emphasis on a holistic approach. This can result in lower medical costs and a healthier population. In cases where a patient is discharged from a hospital, but still needs ongoing health care, a NP can provide such care at home or on an outpatient basis.

A NP can choose a particular health field, such as primary care, family care, women’s health, pediatrics, geriatrics, or psychiatry. They can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, serve as advocates or health care consultants for businesses and organizations. After completion of a graduate degree, taking about three years, it’s necessary to be certified by the state one wishes to practice in. Each state has slightly different requirements, stated by it’s Board of Nurses.

Historically, the profession of NP is fairly new, with the concept beginning in the 1960’s. The premise was to add to the number of available health care providers, since there was a shortage of medical doctors at that time. This is a interesting career with many options offering personal satisfaction for a person who has leadership qualities, loves acquiring knowledge and helping others as well as having a positive impact on their lives (

This is an expanding career field, in part because of new technology resulting in new solutions to health issues, a longer life expectancy, as well as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Bureau of Labor projects a 26% increase in the need for NP’s between 2010 and 2020, with a median salary of $89,960.