Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner is as close as you can get to being a doctor without going to medical school. They are advanced practice nurses who provide healthcare services that are similar to those of a doctor focusing on diagnosing and treating medical problems.

The profession of nurse practitioner started in the mid 1960s as a response to a countrywide shortage of doctors. In order to become a nurse practitioner, a candidate must first become a registered nurse and then earn a master’s degree in nursing. They can then become certified by a professional organization such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Most nurse practitioners specialize in one area of the medical profession such as pediatrics or women’s health services.

While a nurse practitioner does not have to spend years in medical school and residency, the profession still requires years of education and experience. A nurse practitioner must first become a registered nurse, usually by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing a national examination. He or she can then go on to enroll in an advanced nursing program and earn a master’s degree.

While much of a nursing education must be in a clinical setting, some core courses can be taken in a classroom or even online. After completing a master’s degree, the candidate will usually choose a specialty and become certified as a nurse practitioner.

Nurse Practitioner Job Description

A nurse practitioner focuses on clinical care of the patient as well as finding a cure for their ailments. They often focus on individualized care and treat the affect of the illness or injury not just on the patient, but on the patient’s family as well. A nurse practitioner will take the time to encourage the patient to participate in their healthcare decisions and uses education as a primary healing tool. Some of the duties of a nurse practitioner include:

  • Taking health histories of patients
  • Counseling patients on their conditions
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Interpreting lab results such as EKGs and X-rays
  • Prescribing medications
  • Referring patients to other health care professionals as necessary
  • Offering prenatal care and family planning
  • Conducting well-child care, including administering immunizations

Most nurse practitioners work in a hospital or doctor’s office, but they can also be found in the home health care field, nursing homes, college clinics and independent health centers.

Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to a 2007 survey by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the median salary of a nurse practitioner is $86,486 per year. As with other health professionals, the job outlook is expected to grow faster than average, at about 20% through 2016, largely because of an ageing population.



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