What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse that has decided to pursue additional education and experience — they have more training than a registered nurse but less training than a doctor.

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.

What does a Nurse Practitioner do?

A nurse practitioner is able to not only diagnose and treat a patient's medical problems, but also incorporate healthy practices into the patient's daily life. 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.

A nurse practitioner sitting in front of her computer and smiling for the camera.

There is a lot of collaboration between a nurse practitioner and a 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.

Nurse practitioners 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 counseling, 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, and patient counseling (helping patients understand their illness and offering treatment options).

In order for a nurse practitioner to provide high-quality care, they need to be patient, empathetic, compassionate, and nonjudgmental. In order to effectively diagnose and treat a patient, they need excellent analytical and observational skills, and must be especially attentive to detail when performing surgery or prescribing medications.

Are you suited to be a nurse practitioner?

Nurse practitioners have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

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What is the workplace of a Nurse Practitioner like?

Work environments may include hospitals, urgent care clinics, and private practices. Nurse practitioners can choose to practice in pediatrics, adult gerontology, gender-related issues, neonatal, psychiatric issues, or family practice.

Nurse practitioners have many responsibilities, such as evaluating patients, providing accurate information to the patient, following up on diagnostic tests, and reviewing reports.

This career can be physically challenging, as many nurse practitioners work 50 to 60 hours per week. Many of those hours are spent standing or walking. On-call hours or night shifts may also be required.

Nurse Practitioners are also known as:
Adult Nurse Practitioner Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Advanced Practice Nurse Advanced Practice Registered Nurse