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What does a nurse practitioner do?

A nurse practitioner (np) provides primary and specialty medical care. Like a physician, he or she evaluates and diagnoses patients, orders lab tests, prescribes medications, and manages health conditions. Nps also teach their patients how to keep a healthy lifestyle. Since some states restrict their duties, their tasks may differ depending on where they practice.

This is one of several occupations referred as advanced practice registered nurse (aprn). Other job titles include nurse anesthetist and clinical nurse specialist.

Nurse practitioners work in a variety of specialty areas including acute care, oncology, women’s health, neonatal health, psychiatric and mental health, and pediatric health. Nps also work in subspecialties such as cardiovascular, hematology/oncology, neurology, and urology.

Nurse Practitioner Duties and Responsibilities

Among the main tasks of this type of nurses we can find:

• Conduct health assessments, including complete medical and psychosocial history recording. • Record symptoms. • Physically examine patients. • Make diagnoses. • Develop a treatment plan that may include medications and other therapies. • Provide patient education to promote habits that prevent disease and maintain good health. • Collaborate with other health care providers, including physicians and nurses. • Ordering and interpreting laboratory test results. • Following up with a patient to determine the effectiveness of recommended treatments.

Nurse practitioners also help patients keep a good health and treat their illnesses. This requires taking into account their health history and any symptoms they are experiencing. Laboratory tests provide additional information that will let them identify abnormalities that may not be revealed through a conversation with the patient or a physical exam.

Nurse practitioners encourage patients to actively participate in their own wellness. The means by which they accomplish this is by providing education and counseling to help patients understand how to maintain their own good health or mitigate symptoms and disease progression. Like all healthcare professionals, nps do not consider their job done when a patient leaves the office. And since results are an important aspect of their practice, it is crucial to determine whether the treatments administered or recommended were effective or not.

Nurse Practitioner Salary

Nurse practitioners earn a higher median annual salary than other diagnostic and treatment health care professionals. Their pay varies by location and experience.

Median annual salary: $107,030 Top 10% of annual salary: more than $150,320 Less than 10% annual salary: less than $78,300 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.

Education, training and certification

Before anyone can begin preparing to become a nurse practitioner, they must have a license to practice as a registered nurse (rn). That requires earning a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, or a diploma in nursing and obtaining a state-issued license. While most graduate programs prefer to admit candidates who have a bachelor’s degree, some offer a bridge program for those who have a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing.

Master’s or doctorate in nursing practice:

Most people enter this profession by completing a master’s degree in nursing practice, but some choose to pursue a doctorate in nursing practice (dnp) or a doctorate. Master’s or doctoral candidates receive advanced clinical education through classroom and clinical instruction. Courses vary by specialty, but generally include advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment; health information technology; and leadership.

Licensure np:

all states and the district of columbia require nurse practitioners to be licensed. One must have an issued state license and a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. It is also necessary to pass a national certification exam for the specialty in which you are trained.

Nurse practitioner skills and competencies

Employers in nps, such as physician practices, hospitals and long-term care facilities, prefer to hire individuals with the following skills:

• Communication skills: to communicate with their patients and colleagues, nurse practitioners need excellent listening, speaking and interpersonal skills. They must be able to understand what their patients are telling them, communicate instructions clearly, and build and maintain a trusting relationship. • Problem solving: based on clinical interviews, physical examinations, and laboratory test results, nps must identify diseases and other health conditions. After making diagnoses, they need to develop treatment plans. • Critical thinking: In developing a treatment plan, an NP must be able to evaluate several options for treating a condition and then identify the one that he or she decides will have the best outcome. • Compassion: nurse practitioners must be able to empathize with sick and worried patients and their families. • Leadership skills: nps generally manage other members of the health care team, such as nurses and licensed practical nurses (lpns).

Labor perspective

Along with other advanced practice registered nurses, nurse practitioners can expect an excellent career path. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls) predicts that employment will grow 36% between 2016 and 2026. This is much faster than the average job growth for all occupations.

The bls cites several factors contributing to this outstanding growth. They include an aging baby boomer population and an emphasis on preventive health care. In addition, many states are allowing nurse practitioners to perform a wider variety of services, which has led to more patients seeking them out.

Work environment

Most nurse practitioners work in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. Some make home visits to patients’ homes or travel long distances to provide health care services in underserved areas.

Work schedule

Most nurse practitioners have full-time jobs. some work nights, weekends and holidays, and some, particularly those working in critical care or obstetrics, must be on call to respond to emergencies.

How to get a job

Check the requirements in your state The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) provides a detailed state-by-state directory that includes licensure requirements and state laws regarding scope of practice.


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