In its simplest form, the definition of a nurse practitioner is that of a registered nurse with additional education – Master’s degree in nursing (commonly abbreviated as an MSN) or a doctoral degree (a DNP is a doctorate in Nursing Practice).
While both RNs and Nurse Practitioners work with patients to provide care and monitor health, Nurse Practitioners are considered APRNs (advanced practice registered nurses) who have advanced clinical training and a minimum of a master’s degree (MS).
As a result, NPs are often given more autonomy, responsibilities, and choice within their job setting.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners can be responsible for a variety of care and can participate in activities such as, but not limited to:
- Recording patient information, including medical history and symptoms
- Creating or contributing to patient care plans
- Ordering, performing, and deciphering diagnostic tests
- Performing physical exams and observing patients
- Diagnosing and treating various health problems
- Evaluating patient responses to treatments and prescription medicines
- Consulting with doctors and other healthcare professionals as needed
In addition to requiring an advanced degree and passing the certification exam nurse practitioners also have the opportunity for specialization in their field.
And, as previously mentioned, the evolving role of a Nurse Practitioner allows them to independently treat and care for patients in many settings, such as healthcare centers, physician’s offices, outpatient facilities, NP-led clinics, and more. Often the work setting is a result of their specialization.