The Role of a Nurse Practitioner


October 25th, 2010

There are hundreds of jobs within the healthcare industry, making it one of the largest and fastest growing industries around. In 2008, healthcare provided over 14 million jobs in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While different jobs in the field have different job responsibilities and descriptions, salaries, and educational and training requirements, the responsibilities of most that work in healthcare are related to the health and wellness of people in our society. The role of the nurse practitioner is no different- as their job is to care for the ill and provide patients with primary care and health services.

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced training. Most have completed graduate level education, with at least a master degree, and have been trained in diagnosing and caring for patients with medical conditions and chronic illnesses. To become licensed to practice as a nurse practitioner, they must have a national certification and be licensed through nursing boards. Nurse practitioners also focus on preventative measures such as educating their patients, their families, and the general public on the importance of their health and making healthy choices that promote wellness. They may also assist in minor surgeries and procedures under the care of a physician, provide specialty care for patients, and conduct annual physicals.

Nurse practitioners have some of the same job responsibilities as physicians and may serve as a health provider for their patients. They see patients of all ages and also focus on how their patients illnesses affect the lives of their family members. As the matter of fact, their role also includes informing family members on how to deal with illness, and on patient advocacy. In addition, some nurse practitioners also conduct research, often prescribe medication for illnesses, and prescribe rehabilitative treatments and physical therapy. They also order, perform, and evaluate studies or tests, such a lab tests and x-rays.

While requirements to become licensed to practice as a nurse practiotioner will vary by state, most states do require a master degree or a doctoral degree. Once a candidate becomes a registered nurse, he or she must complete an advanced training program, that must be approved by the state, that usually specializes in a specific area of care including, general or family practice, women’s health, or medicine. They generally practice in institutions such as health centers and departments, hospitals, physician’s offices, medical buildings, clinics, nursing facilities, and home health care agencies.


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