Nurse practitioners (NPs) are a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who undergo specialized education and clinical training that allows them to provide advanced care and perform tasks that registered nurses (RNs) are not licensed to do. Nurse practitioners are often specialized in a certain field, such as pediatrics, gerontology, women's health, or mental health. NPs can examine patients, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication, and treat illnesses, much like physicians do. Their specific responsibilities depend on their specialization and the state in which they practice. NPs may or may not be required to work under the supervision of a physician, depending on the state they work in.
There are different paths to becoming a nurse practitioner. Most aspiring nurse practitioners earn an undergraduate degree in nursing from an accredited program and become an RN first. Then, after getting some experience as an RN, aspiring nurse practitioners must earn a graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Nurse practitioners must also be licensed in the state they practice in and pass a national certification exam.
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