What does a Nurse Practitioner do?
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.
- Peform physical examinations of patients to evaluate health and diagnose illnesses
- Order and peform diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and laboratory tests
- Determine, plan, and initiate appropriate treatment, and adjust treatment if necessary
- Prescribe and dispense medications
- Document medical information of patients and maintain electronic medical records
- Educate, instruct, and counsel patients and families on presenting health problems, treatment plans, and home care, and encourage and promote preventative health care and positive health behaviors
- Request consultation or referral with other health care providers, such as physicians and clinics
- Actively maintain knowledge of current medical research and trends, and support research projects
- Graduate degree from an accredited nursing school, such as a Master of Science in nursing
- Must have a current license to practice as a nurse practitioner in the state of practice
- Must have the necessary specialty certification
- 2-4 years of clinical work experience
- Must be compassionate and personable
- Ability to communicate effectively with patients and other medical staff
- Strong leadership skills, self-confidence, and ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills
- Exceptional active listening skills
Nurse Practitioner Career Path
Learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Average Years of Experience
Nurse Practitioner Insights
“I work with a great team who all believe in offering the best outcomes for the people we support.”
“Great co workers but I unfortunately never talked to them because of the independent nature of the role.”
“Advertised Barista position but instead was told this is a fountain position and that being a barista was something I would barley be doing.”
“Nice people to work with and enjoyable”
“Faculty position as a nurse practitioner (title was teaching associate even though primary responsibility was patient care) with good benefits.”
“My patients were fun and interesting to work with.”
“I have never had a bad experience with calling one of the doctors and actually enjoy my interactions with them.”
“I've been working here for 2 years now and have seen my career grow like no other place before.”
Nurse Practitioner Interviews
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of nurse practitioners
Nurse practitioners are deeply involved in patient care. The typical day of a nurse practitioner involves examining patients, prescribing medicine, and creating care plans. Nurse practitioners follow up with patients' medical tests and analyze the results. Nurse practitioners in urgent care settings provide emergency medical support.
Nurse practitioners are always in high demand. It's an intellectually challenging career for individuals who want to make a difference in promoting quality healthcare. A nurse practitioner can be a primary care provider or specialize in a particular medical field. A key factor in nurse practitioner job satisfaction is flexible working hours.
Working as a nurse practitioner can be tough because they aren't always given the same respect as board-certified physicians. Nurse practitioners assigned to the emergency room often work long hours. Still, it's an emotionally rewarding position that gives kind, experienced medical professionals the opportunity to help patients every day.