What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Table of Contents
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse that has additional education and experience. These nurses are able to prescribe medications, perform in-office procedures, communicate diagnoses, and order and interpret diagnostic tests. They also have hospital admitting, discharge and hospital rounding privileges.
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
What does a Nurse Practitioner do?
There is a lot of collaboration between the nurse practitioner and the physician and vice versa. Because the nurse practitioner can practice independently from the physician, the physician is freed up to leave the office and focus on surgical cases, do rounds at the hospital, or tend to an emergency. Rescheduling of appointments is avoided, and patient satisfaction is increased by allowing the physician to focus on patients that need physician-specific attention.
A nurse practitioner is able to not only diagnose and treat a patient's medical problems, but also incorporate the treatment into the patient's family, culture and daily life by teaching the patient ways to stay healthy. They are able to give a patient more education, individual attention and encouragement to incorporate and adjust to a lifestyle that will be of benefit to them and their family.
There are two types of settings a nurse practitioner can work in:
Primary Health Care
- these nurse practitioners work in community settings and provide general health care to all ages. Services provided are: annual physicals, immunizations, monitoring chronic illnesses (like diabetes), referrals to social services, referrals to other health care services (like home care), treatment for infections or minor injuries, patient counselling, and health promotion.
Adult & Pediatric Care
- these nurse practitioners tend to work in hospitals and provide specialized health care to adults and children who are hospitalized with acute illnesses, and for patients with specific health conditions (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, neonatal issues). Services provided are: carrying out procedures (eg., de-fibrillation), treatment for critical illnesses, monitoring patients with chronic conditions, referrals to other health or social services, health promotion, patient counselling (helping the patient to understand their illness and outlining treatment options).
In order for a nurse practitioner to provide high-quality care, they must be patient, empathetic, compassionate, and nonjudgmental. In order to effectively diagnose and treat a patient, a nurse practitioner needs excellent analytical and observational skills, and must be especially attentive to detail when performing surgery or prescribing medications.
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How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Aspiring nurse practitioners can begin their education by earning a bachelor's degree in nursing. Courses include anatomy, physiology, community health, pediatric nursing and pharmacology. This takes about four years of full-time study and requires both classroom and clinical learning.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, candidates must complete an additional two to six years of study to earn a master’s degree in nursing, or Doctorate of Nursing Practice. Many graduate schools require nurse practitioner candidates to have a few years of experience as a registered nurse. To enter some specialties and sub-specialties (child and adolescent psychiatry, for example), nurse practitioners must complete an additional supervised clinical experience.
A nurse practitioner must be licensed by the state in which they practice.
What is the workplace of a Nurse Practitioner like?
A nurse practitioner's work can be physically demanding, as they often have to help lift patients on a daily basis, and spend most of their shifts on their feet. It can be emotionally demanding as well, since they sometimes need to make life and death decisions that will affect not only their patients but their families as well. There is often night and weekend shifts involved, and some on-call work.
A Day in the Life - Steve, Family Nurse Practitioner
Emergency Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Interview with Family Nurse Practitioner
Career Profile: Day in the Life of a Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioner, Career Video from drkit.org
Career Highlights: Nurse Practitioner