An Introduction to the Nurse Practitioner

An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or Nurse Practitioner is someone that’s completed their education on the graduate level through getting either their master’s degree or a doctoral degree. Additionally, the roles of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse will include the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist as well as the CNSs and the CNMs.

Scope of the Practice

Due to the profession being self-regulated within the United States, the care that is provided by a nurse practitioner can vary widely. There’ll be some nurse practitioners who will work independently of any physician, however, in other states; to be able to practice there’ll be the requirement for an agreement requirement to collaborate with a physician. When it comes to the collaborative agreement, the role and the extent, treatments, pharmacology prescriptions, duties, responsibilities, etc… Are able to afford a nurse practitioner to prescribe and perform will again widely vary amongst states of certification and licensure practice.

The roles of a nurse practitioner are things that can include some of the following:

  • Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic studies, such as, bone x-rays, EKGs, routine lab tests, etc…
  • Prescribing physical therapy and other rehabilitation treatments
  • Conducting physical examinations and obtaining patient’s medical histories
  • Providing family planning services and prenatal care
  • Providing well-child care, which includes immunizations and screening
  • Counseling and educating patients on treatment options, health behaviors and self-care skills
  • Providing patient care in critical care and acute settings
  • Diagnosing, evaluating, treating and managing chronic and acute illness and disease, such as, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc…
  • Providing specialty and primary care services, adult health-maintenance care, including yearly physicals
  • Performing or assisting in minor procedures and surgeries, such as, casting, dermatological biopsies, suturing, etc… (With additional training and/or under supervision of a physician in the states where it’s mandated)
  • Prescribing herbs for chronic and acute illnesses (the extent of prescriptive authority will vary by state and state regulations)

Education, Licensing and Board Certification

In order to be licensed as a nurse practitioner, the nurse practitioner candidates will need first complete the clinical and educational experiences that are acquired to become a registered nurse, then going on and completing a graduate-level nurse practitioner program, which is either a master’s degree or doctorate degree. After that’s been completed the candidate will be required to pass the national board certifications within their specialty area.

Registered nurses who trained initially at either the low-level or associate degree level must first complete their BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or enter into one of the various bridge program offerings, such as, an AND-to-MN/MSN. Some of the bridge programs might award a bachelor’s degree while the nurse partition a candidate continues completing their Master’s degree or doctorate degree elements.

Every nurse practitioner is registered nurse is completed extensive levels of additional training, education, and has had a very radically expanded scope of practice over the traditional roles a registered nurse. In order to become certified/licensed to practice, the nurse practitioner will hold their national board certification in a specialty area, such as:

  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s health
  • Family
  • Adult
  • Acute care
  • So on

Additionally, the nurse practitioner will be other certified or licensed (depending on the state) through the state nursing board rather than through a medical board. The central values of the nurse practitioner field are one of individualized care.

The Work of a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners will focus on the condition of the patient as well as illnesses and their effects on the lives of both the patient and the patient’s family. Furthermore, nurse practitioners make patient education, prevention and wellness top priorities. Additionally, a further focus is patient education about their health and encouragement for them to make choices that are very healthy. More than just health care services, nurse practitioners will conduct research and will often be very active in activities of patient advocacy.

Nurse practitioners will treat not just physical conditions, but the treatment for conditions as well through taking a very comprehensive history, ordering diagnostic tests, interpreting diagnostic tests that ordered, conducting physical examinations and more. Nurse practitioners will then be able to conduct a disease diagnosis and provide patients with the appropriate treatment, which includes the prescription of medication. Unlike other nurses, nurse practitioners are able to serve as the primary health care provider for their patients. They also see patients over all age ranges, dependent on their specific specialty, such as, geriatrics, pediatrics, family, etc…

Additional Certification Information

Nurse practitioners are able to have national board certification within the United States. Additionally, nurse practitioners are able to be educated as well as national certified in the different areas of Family Health, Pediatrics, which includes:

  • Pediatric Acute/Chronic Care
  • Pediatric Oncology
  • General Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Critical Care

Furthermore, additional areas of national certification other than just all the options and pediatrics mentioned above there is:

  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health
  • Neonatology
  • Adult Health
  • Emergency
  • Acute Care
  • Occupational Health
  • Women’s Health
  • Gerontology

In Canada, nurse practitioners will be licensed by either the territory or the province in which they’re practicing.