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Nurse practitioner Job Description

How is a nurse practitioner different from other kinds of nurses?

Nurse practitioners are different from LPNs and RNs in terms of the depth of their education and training and in the amount of autonomy they have in the delivery of care.

Both LPNs and RNs work under the supervision of an attending physician or nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners will often work in a collaborative relationship with physicians, but in some states NPs are not required to have this kind of a professional relationship with a physician at all. This is due to the fact that in many settings NPs are the direct care provider, and are allowed to assess and diagnose as well as order treatments and prescribe medication. LPNs and RNs do not have the authority under their licenses to engage in these activities within any state.

What responsibilities do nurse practitioners have?

A nurse practitioner is often responsible for the holistic management of a patient's health. As a direct care provider, a nurse
Job descriptions will vary depending on clinical specialty, although some activities will be the same across all settings. All nurse practitioners are expected to assess conditions, make an accurate diagnosis in response to patient complaints, order diagnostics, and, where allowed by state licensure, prescribe appropriate medications and treatments. Nurse practitioners' education will prepare them to identify complex cases beyond their scope of intervention in order to appropriately refer patients to physicians. Additional responsibilities may include fielding advice calls from patients, assisting with procedures, counseling patients and families about issues related to illness and disease and performing physicals.

Job descriptions may also vary from one state to another. Because the scope of practice is set on the state level, there are differences across the country. In some states, a nurse practitioner is allowed to prescribe medications, but not in all. This means that in certain states an NP job may include dealing with more complicated conditions that require medical management, but in other states an NP's job may be more oriented towards patient assessment and treatment in collaboration with a physician.

Where does a nurse practitioner work?

An individual Nurse practitioner's work site will correspond to his or her specialty area. As a profession, the places where nurse practitioners provide quality care are tremendously varied, and a new NP student will have many choices to consider.

Nurse practitioners are filling gaps in physician services in the United States where access to health care is increasing, but medical schools are challenged to educate and train doctors fast enough. Nurse practitioners often partner in physician practices to allow a practice to see all the patients that are requesting care. Nurse practitioners work in hospitals where they may be the first clinical contact for preliminary diagnosis before a physician is brought into the case. Nurse practitioners may be the principle care providers in freestanding clinics or ambulatory care centers where a physician is not always available on site. Nurse practitioners often work in home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities or outpatient surgery centers.

Some nurse practitioners may choose a nurse educator emphasis. This education typically varies from the traditional NP program in terms of coursework and clinical training and is oriented toward training a nurse practitioner to teach and train NP students. Practicing nurse practitioners with traditional certifications may respond to NP programs that are in need of qualified instructors and may find themselves teaching classes even though they don't possess a nurse educator background.

What are the employment prospects for nurse practitioners?

Thos interested in knowing how to become a nurse practitioner will be encouraged to learn that employment prospects for NPs are excellent. Health care is a growth industry, and nurses of all kinds make up the largest percentage of health care providers. Because Nurse practitioners in some states are allowed to work very independently, this allows them to fill gaps where primary care providers are in short supply. In states where NP's are required to work under the supervision of or in collaboration with physicians, a qualified provider that can complete preliminary assessments and start clinical management for patients is a valuable extension of both primary care services and clinical specialty care.


Nurse Practitioner Schools