What is a Nurse Practitioner?

NursingJanuary 23, 2014

If you are asking, "What is a nurse practitioner?," you are inquiring about a challenging but rewarding field that involves a great degree of responsibility in patient care. This professional is a registered nurse with advanced education and training who is qualified to diagnose and manage a broad range of medical conditions.

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

Your duties in this position will involve evaluating patients and diagnosing their illnesses, in addition to managing their health problems and helping to prevent further disorders. Patient evaluation includes taking a history, conducting a physical exam and ordering diagnostic tests. Based on the exam and the interpretation of the tests, you will diagnose medical conditions. After devising an individualized plan of care, your role will include managing health problems by prescribing medications and treatments. Your work will also emphasize disease prevention through patient education.

Where Does a Nurse Practitioner Work?

In this career, you can choose from a wide variety of settings. Work environments include clinics, hospitals and office practices, along with college infirmaries and community health centers. You may also have your own private practice or work as a researcher with a pharmaceutical company as well as teach in a university or serve in a government agency.

Within a clinic, hospital or office setting, you may select a specialty area. The options here are numerous, and they include areas such as family health, emergency medicine and cardiology.

How Do You Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Beyond your bachelor's degree in nursing, you will need a master's degree, which necessitates two additional years of study. Within the field, a movement is in place to require all nurse practitioners to earn a doctor of nursing practice degree, which would involve three to four years of study past a bachelor's of science degree. Aside from the education and training, you must also pass a rigorous national certification examination.

This Profession Has a Unique Approach

Nurse practitioners differ from other health care providers in their focus on the health of the whole person. In addressing overall wellness, this field emphasizes preventive measures, patient education and health promotion.

What Salary Can You Expect as a Nurse Practitioner?

This career is one of the highest paid occupations within the field of nursing. Compensation varies and is dependent upon the industry you enter and the geographic location of your job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual national salary of members of this vocation ranged from around $64,000 to nearly $121,000 in 2012.

What is a nurse practitioner? This professional plays a multifaceted role that encompasses patient care, mentoring, educating and administrating. While your responsibilities in this position will vary with the specialty and setting, your work in this field will add much value to the health care system.

Tags: nursing