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What to Know Before You Enroll: Nurse Practitioner Job Description

The health care industry offers a variety of career opportunities. It is important to note that this industry is growing at a substantial rate; healthcare needs are outgrowing the amount of doctors entering the workforce; thereby creating a huge shortage of medical personnel. This has opened a whole new door for those interested in pursuing an advanced master’s degree thus becoming nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners can help alleviate the shortages mentioned above. Individuals within this field will have job security as well as numerous career opportunities.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Anyone interested in becoming a nurse practitioner must first seek licensure as a registered nurse (RN). In order to become a registered nurse the individual must complete a bachelor’s degree program in nursing and then obtain state licensure. Once the individual has worked as a registered nurse for two years the individual may then apply for a master’s program. Upon completion of a master’s program the individual will also be required to complete and pass state mandated licensure examinations.

Nurse Practitioner Job Description

It is important to understand that nurse practitioners do not have the same position or responsibilities as a doctor. They do, however, have more responsibilities than a registered nurse. Nurse practitioners may serve as primary as well as specialty health care providers. Nurse practitioners have obtained a specialized degree thus allowing them to diagnose and treat patient conditions and needs within their specialized field. However, this particular position also allows the nurse to help with all aspects of patient care; thereby combining nursing services with healthcare services. Nurse practitioners work in a variety of setting whether it is in-patient or outpatient offices or clinics. They may also be required to work within a team of doctors and registered nurses or they may work more independently.

The nurse practitioner job description varies depending upon the specialty of the individual. However, most nurse practitioners are capable or expected to complete certain tasks including but not limited to: complete physicals and checkup services, collect family history information, order diagnostic tests, discuss preventative care steps, and diagnosing patient conditions. Some nurse practitioners are even capable of prescribing medications for patients.

It is important to note that patient care for nurse practitioners varies by state. The licensing requirements as well as responsibilities are state mandated. A nurse practitioner job description may also be effected by the legislation in the state in which they reside.


There are core responsibilities that will be expected from every nurse practitioner, these include: physical examinations and diagnosing patient illness or problems. However, responsibilities and duties will vary depending upon the specialized advanced degree chosen by the nurse practitioner. Every nurse practitioner will have a specialty which may include: pediatrics, geriatrics, primary care, oncology, women’s health, as well as psychiatric care.


Nurse practitioners within this field provide healthcare services to infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents (until the age of 18). The nurse practitioner will work in collaboration with the doctor within the children’s ward of the medical office or hospital. The individual will be expected to work with patients who are ill or well and help make crucial decisions about treatment plans or options.


Nurse practitioners within this field care for elderly patients. These nurses may work in a variety of setting including clinics, doctor offices, hospitals, as well as nursing home facilities. Nurse practitioners within this field will provide typical nursing services as well as geriatric based treatments such as prescribing exercise programs, addressing dietary needs, as well as working with recovering patients.

Primary Care

This position is typically more general based than the others. These nurse practitioners will most often work in family health clinics where they will provide general care services such as: check-ups, physical examinations, treatment for illnesses, preventative care, as well as prescribing medications.


A nurse practitioner with an advanced degree in oncology will work with cancer patients. The nurse will advise patients about clinical trials as well as monitoring and recording treatments. These nurses will also provide care and support for patients during their cancer treatments. These nurse practitioners never work alone but rather work under the direct supervision of the doctor.


Most nurse practitioners in this field have obtained a Ph.D. They serve as therapists and prescribe necessary medications to patients. These individuals are not allowed to conduct psychological testing, but they work with psychiatrists in reviewing test results and advising treatment options.

Women’s Health

Nurse practitioners can within the field of women’s health are responsible for the health care of women in carious health care settings. Individuals within this particular specialty work with women’s health issue and problems beginning from adolescence to the elderly years. The nurse practitioner is responsible for understanding: menopause, pregnancy and birth, reproductive health, pap smears, and basic women’s health.