A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with advanced academic and clinical experience, which enables him or her to diagnose and manage most common and many chronic illnesses. The NP works either independently or as a part of a health care team.
A Nurse Practitioner provides a wide range of professional nursing functions, as well as functions traditionally only provided by physicians. These functions include assessing and diagnosing; conducting physical examinations; monitoring patient status; educating and counseling patients; and consulting and collaborating with, and referring to, other providers.
A Nurse Practitioner provides high quality, cost effective, and individualized care for the patient.
NP's focus largely on health maintenance, disease prevention, counseling and education in a wide variety of setting. With a strong emphasis on primary care, NP's are employed within several specialties, including neonatology, nurse midwifery, pediatrics, school health, family and adult care, women's health, mental health, home care, geriatrics, and acute care.
Today, most nurse practitioners are educated through master's level programs in nursing or in post-graduate level study. The nurse must then pass national qualifying exams in the specialty to gain certification. A registered nurse (RN) is recommended to have extensive clinical experience before applying to a nurse practitioner's program. An intensive preceptorship under the direct supervision of an experienced nurse practitioner or a physician, as well as graduate level courses in research and nursing theory, are key components to most NP programs.
For more information about Nurse Practitioners, visit the American Association of Nurse Practitioners website.
Last Updated: 8/28/14