If you’re looking for somewhere to direct a little extra appreciation, look no further than your nearest Nurse Practitioner. Pursuing an NP degree requires time, talent and commitment. That said: What’s a Nurse Practitioner anyway?
Nurse Practitioners: Who Are They?
Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are indispensable health care providers, and among the most specialized. One of the most notable differences between an NP nurse and other nurses like RNs is that Nurse Practitioners study a particular area of expertise through an advanced degree. Also noteworthy: NPs are able to act autonomously, and perform many of the duties and responsibilities of a physician. Some NPs even operate their own private practices, especially those specializing in primary care.
NPs by Specialty
NP or APRN graduates go on to a multitude of practices, including:
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)
- Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners (AGPNP)
- Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AGCNP)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (primary or acute)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner means obtaining a masters or doctoral degree, and meeting the licensure requirements of the state in which they practice.
What NPs Do…
Nurse Practitioners are holistic medical care providers with backgrounds as experienced nurses. Seeing an NP ensures an experience that is patient-focused, with healthcare decisions tailored to each patient’s unique medical circumstances.
Your course of study in pursuing a Nurse Practitioner degree prepares you for your certification exam and is rigorous. Once licensed, NPs provide clinical care, diagnostics, preventative care and health management. You’ll also be qualified to prescribe courses of medication (under supervision of a physician in some states), to order, perform and interpret lab work and imaging, and to counsel and educate your patients.
Why See a Nurse Practitioner?
One advantage of seeing an NP instead of an MD is that it’s often easier to get an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner, without sacrificing quality of care. This is in part because of a shortage of available physicians, and the ability of an NP to perform those same duties – so qualified NPs enjoy high demand. In addition to increased accessibility, nurses in general have a reputation for empathy and a personal approach to care.
Of course, every nurse and every physician differs in “bedside manner,” and many doctors are just as capable of compassionate and attentive care as nurses, but some patients do report a preference for a Nurse Practitioner in charge of their treatment, based on reputation alone. Accessibility is also a component when it comes to facilities and locations: you can find NPs treating patients across a wide range of facilities, from doctor’s offices and hospitals to psychiatric centers and managed care health centers and campuses.
Next Steps for Aspiring Nurse Practitioners
For those considering an NP degree, first consider your starting point. If you’ve already earned a degree and certification as an LVN or RN, you’ll be able to continue your education toward an advanced degree in nursing, essentially adding to your existing skill set. Or, you can begin a course of study toward becoming a Nurse Practitioner without any previous nursing education or clinical experience. And even working NPs can advance their degrees toward a doctoral or leadership role, or additional specialty. It’s a challenging career path, but nurses overwhelmingly report it to be a highly rewarding one.
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.