Nurse Practitioner

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)   More Names
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Cardiology Nurse Practitioner, Certified Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, Dermatology Nurse Practitioner, Electrophysiology Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Family Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Family Practice Certified Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Gastroenterology Nurse Practitioner, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Internal Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LNP), Medical Surgery Nurse, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Neurosurgical Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner, Adult, Nurse Practitioners, Obstetrics-Gynecology Nurse Practitioner, Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Surgical Nurse Practitioner, Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner

Conduct health histories and physical exams of patients; order and interpret diagnostic studies such as x-rays, EKGs and blood work; assess, diagnose and treat acute illnesses and injuries, as well as chronic and complex conditions.

Nurse practitioners also order and prescribe medications and immunizations; prescribe other services such as occupational therapy, perform procedures such as casting, splinting, and biopsies; and consult with patients about their self-management of acute and chronic illnesses, tailoring instructions to individual needs and conditions.

Nurse practitioners are advanced degree registered nurses with experience in specialty care areas including those that involve treatment of acutely or chronically ill, or injured, patients. As senior level nursing specialists, they work with medical doctors specialized in the same care areas and often provide diagnosis and treatment of patients as directed.

Other nursing and medical staff will consult with them, including other nurses who come to them for direction and advice. They work for hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and outpatient facilities as well as for insurance companies and other healthcare consultation businesses.

What might a nurse practitioner actually do, and how do they relate to other advanced practice nurses such as nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists? In a featured article on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing website, Kathleen Dracup, Dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing, gives some examples that answer these questions:

"A mother brings her child into a clinic for treatment of an earache. Instead of a physician, a nurse practitioner provides the care.

A patient is readied for surgery. A variety of specialists move about the surgery room, but it's not a specially trained physician administering the anesthetic - it's a certified nurse anesthetist.

During the recovery from an acute illness, it's decided that the patient no longer needs to stay in the hospital but isn't well enough to return home. It's decided that the best place to continue the recovery is an intermediate-care facility. Who makes that decision? A clinical nurse specialist.

Who oversees the physical and emotional rehabilitation programs at this facility? Another clinical nurse specialist."

These health-care professionals are all advanced practice nurses (APNs), all provide specialized medical services, and all have at least a master's degree or higher graduate-level degree.

Nurse practitioners generally provide their higher-level patient care and treatment in six broad medical specialty areas: neonatal; pediatrics; family and individual practice; women's health and gender practice; adult and gerontology; and psychiatric and mental health.

As advanced practice nurses (APNs), nurse practitioners - along with, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives - are at top level of the nursing career pathway. Some may decide to become executive healthcare administrators (e.g., nursing home chief administrators) or college faculty nursing teachers, but often they assume these new roles while also choosing to also continue with APN activities.

Credentials Needed: The credentials needed to practice as a nurse practitioner include (1) holding an active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or its equivalent from another country, and (2) holding a master's, post-master's, or doctorate in a nurse practitioner specialty program. These criteria also form the foundation for a nurse practitioner to further benchmark their expertise by attaining a voluntary industry-based certification.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offers the AANP Certification Program as a way for entry-level nurse practitioners to benchmark their knowledge and expertise in each of three specialties: adult, gerontologic, and family nurse practitioner. To earn this certification, a qualified applicant must pass the appropriate AANPCP National Certification Examination.

In the specialty area of nurse practitioner pediatrics, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) sponsors the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) certification. To earn this certification, a candidate must be an active RN; have earned a master's degree or higher from a postsecondary program accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) that also meets specific criteria for supervised clinical training hours in pediatrics; and pass the PNP certification exam.

The ANCC also sponsors certifications in other nurse practitioner specialty areas. The "Education & Training - Find Programs" section for this career includes links to the different ANCC certifications as well as to other relevant industry-based certifications which individuals may choose to help demonstrate their knowledge and skill competencies in this occupation.

To become a registered nurse (RN), which is a pre-requisite for becoming a Nurse Practitioner, all 50 states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) require that RN candidates must first graduate from an accredited nursing program and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination. After passing this national licensing exam, candidates are ready to seek licensure by the state in which they intend to practice.

To check what your state may require regarding licensing or other credentials for RNs, use the "Education & Training - Find Programs" link for this career or the following alternative link to state licensing information under About Nursing Schools, Programs, and Degrees.

Some Key Things to Remember: Nurse practitioners are advanced degree registered nurses with experience in specialty care areas, including those that involve treatment of acutely or chronically ill, or injured, patients. The path to becoming a nurse practitioner begins with becoming a registered nurse, gaining experience in a nursing specialty, and obtaining a master's or doctorate degree in advanced practice nursing.

To practice as a nurse practitioner, an individual must have an active RN license and have earned a master's, degree or higher in a nurse practitioner specialty. Voluntary, specialized care industry-based certifications also may be earned to further demonstrate competency as a nurse practitioner.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
35% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $86,970 - $120,450    Hourly: $42 - $58
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
Find Programs

Percent Job Growth:

35% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $86,970 - $120,450

Hourly: $42 - $58