Millions of Americans are choosing Nurse Practioners as their health partner. These professionals combine their clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating medical problems, along with emphasis on preventing diseases and focusing on health management.
What is a Nurse Practioner
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are professionals in the medical field who are advanced practice registered nurses. They provide medical care to patients of all ages – from newborns to senior citizens. These nurses have the education and training that allows them to give health promotion and maintenance via the diagnosis and treatment of acute medical issues, including chronic illnesses.
Nurse practitioners are authorized to prescribe medications, including controlled drugs, in all 50 states in America. They are authorized to practice independently in 26 states.
What Do They Do
The work of Nurse Practitioners encompasses countless of fields and procedures. These nurses conduct comprehensive and focused physical exams; diagnose, as well as treat, common acute diseases, and injuries; administer vaccines; help patients manage common illnesses like high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and other chronic health issues; interpret and order diagnostic exams like X-rays, EKGs and laboratory tests; prescribe medicine and therapies based on the nurses’ own diagnosis or a physician’s; perform certain medical procedures; and teach and counsel patients, plus their families, about healthy lifestyle choices and health care options.
Nurse Practitioners are often found working in a wide variety of environments. These may be in: Cardiology, Family Practice, Emergency, Neonatology, Geriatrics, Oncology, Nephrology, Pediatrics, School health, Primary care and Women’s health. They have the option of working in clinics minus doctor supervision, while there are those who collaborate with doctors, forming a joint medical team.
Where They work
Nurse Practitioners work in clinics, managed care organizations and hospitals, office practices, deliver care found in rural regions, urban community health centers, university campuses, worksite employee medical centers and other places. Furthermore, these professionals may be employed by healthcare technology companies such as pharmaceutical manufacturers. They may also conduct health care research or become teachers in schools and universities. The opportunity to serve in governmental agencies like the military or health departments is available for Nurse Practitioners.
About 15 percent of Nurse Practitioners operate their own private practices. In the United States, you will find some nurse-managed health centers where all of the medical care is managed and administered by Nurse Practitioners working in tandem with other healthcare experts.
How Much They Make
The earnings of Nurse Practitioners vary tremendously. The salary depends on the nurse’s area of specialization, patient population, number of years working, location, educational level and also the size of the company where they may be employed. As of today, the average yearly salary of a Nurse Practitioner in the United States is $106,255.
How to become a Nurse Practioner
To become a Nurse Practitioner in the United States, you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, or some other undergraduate degree, plus obtain a license as a Registered Nurse (RN). Afterwards, you are required to graduate from an accredited graduate or doctoral program. Expect your curriculum to include courses in epidemiology, health promotion, physical assessment and diagnostic reasoning, advanced pathophysiology and more.
Once you have obtained the required education, you must pass a national board certifying exam with a specific population focus. This includes family practice, acute care, pediatrics, women’s health, adult-gerontology, psychiatric-mental health or neonatal. When you have achieved board certification, you are then required to apply for additional credentials, such as an APRN license, DEA registration number, prescriptive authority and others. These are at the state and federal level.
All Nurse Practitioners must complete a specific amount of continuing medical education credits along with certain clinical practice hours. These are mandatory to maintain Nurse Practitioner licensure and certification. All Nurse Practitioners are licensed via state boards of nursing.
What else can you expect
If you decide to become a Nurse Practioner, your work schedule will greatly depend on your type of practice. You can expect a work schedule that is similar to a traditional work week or one that includes work on weekends and holidays, as well as the option of being available on-call after hours.
Thanks to the declining number of primary care physicians and the rise of demand for health care services, there are more and more job opportunities for Nurse Practitioners.
What kind of Professional Nursing Organizations are associated with Nurse Practioner?
Nurse Practitioners can join the following esteemed professional nursing organizations related to their field: American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), American College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP), Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) and the International Council of Nurses.
Related Careers within nursing
There are plenty of careers within the field of nursing. You may be interested in the following professions that are related to the work of Nurse Practitioners: Case Management Nurse, Clinical Nurse Leader, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Researcher.