What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced clinical training and education. Nurse practitioners must successfully complete both undergraduate education programs as well as graduate education programs. As a result, nurse practitioners have on average completed at least seven years of formal education in addition to their clinical training as both registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners must be licensed as a registered nurse prior to becoming a nurse practitioner and therefore, have the benefit of the years of work experience gained from working as a nurse prior to receiving advanced training and becoming certified as a nurse practitioner. To be certified, nurse practitioners must have a Masters degree in Nursing (MSN) from an accredited college or university, must have successfully completed a standard number of clinical hours in their specialty area of practice, and like physicians must pass a written board exam in their specialty area. Nurse practitioners are licensed through the State Board of Nursing.
What does a nurse practitioner do?
Nurse practitioners are qualified to care for patients during health and illness. They provide quality, comprehensive care throughout the life span and across many medical specialties, including pediatric primary care and hospital settings. Nurse practitioners:
- Obtain medical histories and perform physical exams
- Diagnose and treat acute health problems
- Diagnose, treat and monitor chronic diseases
- Prescribe medications and other treatments
- Order and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays
- Provide well child care, including screenings and immunizations
- Promote positive health behaviors through education and counseling
- Collaborate with physicians and other health professionals as needed