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What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

In CNN Money’s list of top 50 jobs in America for 2007, nurse practitioner was ranked 4th. According to the report, the median salary of experienced nurse practitioners was $85,200 and the top pay was $113,000. The 10-year job growth rate from 2006 to 2016 was 23 percent and there were some 23,000 total jobs available across the United States. In terms of quality of life ratings, nurse practitioner jobs score highly in personal satisfaction, future growth, and benefit to society. The job of a nurse practitioner is extremely challenging and stressful so it’s worthwhile to look at some general information and responsibilities of a nurse practitioner.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner can be described as a registered nurse who has undergone post-graduate studies, so he or she is qualified to administer advanced practice nursing. All nurse practitioners in the United States are required to hold at least a master’s in nursing but there are nurse practitioners who hold Ph.Ds as well. There are many various types of nurse practitioner jobs in the fields of school health, women’s health, primary care, oncology, pediatrics, neonatology, nephrology, family practice, geriatrics, cardiology, emergency, and others. In this sense, aspiring nurse practitioners are required to go through a nurse practitioner program in a particular area of specialty.

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

Nurse practitioners carry out all the basic functions on registered nurses but their scope of practice is wider because they are trained to provide advanced nursing practice. Here’s a general nurse practitioner job description.

  • Other than providing patient care, nurse practitioners also provide treatment under a physician’s supervision in public health agencies, hospitals, clinics, and health centers.
  • Nurse practitioners assist physicians by carrying out patient examination and diagnosis.
  • Nurse practitioners are required to study and interpret patient records and tests.
  • Nurse practitioners have to assess the patient’s health problems and health care needs.
  • Together with medical professionals, specialists, and physicians, nurse practitioners strategize personalized and proper health care plans for patients.
  • Consulting with the physician, nurse practitioners assess the patient’s condition and recommend the most appropriate type of treatments.
  • As a specialized nurse, a nurse practitioner has the authority to prescribe various methods of treatment and forms of drugs to the patient. For instance, a nurse practitioner can recommend the most suitable type of therapy.
  • When the patient’s treatment requires specialized medical help, a nurse practitioner can make such a recommendation.
  • In some situations, a nurse practitioner’s duties include the administering of anesthesia in the operating room.
  • Specialist nurse practitioners may also provide assistance in specialized medical procedures or deliveries.
  • If the situation arises, they also have to attend to other clinical duties such as patient registration, appointment making, and so on.
  • When a patient has some questions about his or her medical condition, a nurse practitioner may be required to offer the answers.

Each state has specific guidelines on the scope of practice for nurse practitioners. In some states, nurse practitioners are authorized to prescribe medication without the consent of a physician but in other states, they are not permitted to do so. The American Nurses Association reports that nurse practitioners are capable of providing up to 80 percent of primary and preventive health care. Looking at the nurse practitioner job description, it can be seen that the job can be highly stressful. At the same time, it’s important to realize that there’s no standard nurse practitioner job description, because each specialist nurse practitioner will have specific duties which are unique.
Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners

According to the 2010-11 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 2.6 registered nurses million jobs in the United States. In 2010, there are more than 167,000 nurse practitioners in the US, and the number is expected to grow as the demand for health care services increases. Under these circumstances, it’s quite safe to say that there will be no shortage of nurse practitioner jobs. There are many places where nurse practitioners are employed, including nursing homes, hospitals, health departments, walk-in clinics. Health maintenance organizations, home health care agencies, school and college clinics, community clinics, and private offices. The salary of a nurse practitioner is dependent on factors such as experience, place of work, geography, education, and more.