Career Development

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

Find out what a nurse practitioner does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a nurse practitioner.

A nurse practitioner (NPs) are advanced practice nurses who have received additional training and education in order to provide primary care services. They can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for patients with a wide range of conditions.

NPs work independently or alongside doctors and other medical professionals. Their duties may vary depending on their specialty area, but they commonly perform the same types of tasks as general practitioners do—including conducting physical exams, diagnosing illnesses, prescribing treatments, etc.

Nurse Practitioner Job Duties

Nurse practitioners have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conducting physical exams and diagnosing illnesses, diseases, disabilities, or other conditions
  • Developing treatment plans and providing primary care to patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease
  • Educating patients about their conditions and how to manage them
  • Managing patients’ care by diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications, and ordering lab tests or other diagnostic tests
  • Performing surgery or other procedures, when they are authorized to do so by state law
  • Prescribing medications, treatments, or other therapies as ordered by a physician or other healthcare provider
  • Performing physical exams on patients to check for signs of illness or injury
  • Providing leadership and guidance to nurses, physicians, and other health care providers in the delivery of care to patients
  • Providing health education to patients, families, schools, and communities about topics such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, disease prevention, and health maintenance activities

Nurse Practitioner Salary & Outlook

Nurse practitioner salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of patients they treat.

  • Median Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $153,000 ($73.56/hour)

The employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

As healthcare costs continue to increase, nurse practitioners are expected to be more widely used as part of a cost-saving strategy. Nurse practitioners can provide basic care and treat common ailments, which may allow doctors to focus on more complicated cases.

Nurse Practitioner Job Requirements

There are a number of qualifications required to obtain a position as a nurse practitioner. They include:

Education: Nurse practitioners are required to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then complete a master’s program in nursing. The master’s program will prepare nurse practitioners to work in a variety of health care settings. Courses will include topics such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, health assessment, health promotion, research methods, ethics and medical law and ethics.

Training & Experience: Most of the training for this role happens through formal education, but some employers may require new nurse practitioners to complete a period of on-the-job training. This training period allows the nurse practitioner to learn about the organization’s specific procedures and to begin building a patient base.

Certifications & Licenses: Nurse practitioners must earn licensure to practice. Each state has different requirements, but they typically require applicants to have completed an accredited nurse practitioner program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination-NP.

Some nurse practitioners also earn additional certifications, such as board certification in a specialty.

Nurse Practitioner Skills

Nurses need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information through verbal or nonverbal means. Nurse practitioners must be able to communicate effectively with patients, other medical professionals and patients’ families. They must also be able to communicate complex medical information in a way that is easy to understand.

Empathy: A nurse practitioner must be able to empathize with their patients in order to provide them with the best care. Empathy allows a nurse practitioner to understand their patients’ feelings and concerns and address them accordingly. This can help a nurse practitioner build a trusting relationship with their patients and encourage them to be open and honest about their health.

Time management: Nurse practitioners often have many patients to see in a day, so time management is an important skill for them to have. They may also have other duties to complete, such as paperwork, so they need to be able to manage their time well to get everything done.

Critical thinking: Nurse practitioners must be able to make quick decisions and think critically about their patients’ health. They must be able to assess a patient’s condition and determine the best course of treatment. This may include ordering tests, prescribing medication or referring a patient to a specialist.

Medical knowledge: Nurse practitioners must have a thorough understanding of medical procedures and practices. They must be able to diagnose and treat patients with a variety of conditions and ailments. They must also be able to interpret medical test results and understand the implications of those results.

Nurse Practitioner Work Environment

Nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and community health centers. They may also work in schools, nursing homes, and home health agencies. Most nurse practitioners work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. Some nurse practitioners may be on call 24 hours a day, and they may have to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Nurse Practitioner Trends

Here are three trends influencing how nurse practitioners work. Nurse practitioners will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Telehealth

The growth of telehealth is a trend that is quickly changing the healthcare industry. With the rise of smartphones and other technology, patients are now able to access health care services from the comfort of their own home.

This trend is having a major impact on the nursing profession, as nurse practitioners are now able to provide services through telehealth channels. This allows them to reach more patients in need of care and provides them with more flexibility in where they work.

Patient Engagement Will Be Key

As patient engagement becomes more important in healthcare, nurse practitioners will need to develop skills in this area.

Nurse practitioners play a critical role in patient care, and they will need to be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to help them understand their treatment plans and make informed decisions about their care. In addition, nurse practitioners will need to be able to connect with patients on a personal level in order to build trust and ensure that they are comfortable with their care team.

More Collaboration Between Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals

As nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals, they will need to learn how to work together to provide the best possible care for patients.

This trend is already beginning to take shape in hospitals and clinics around the world, as nurses are increasingly being asked to work with doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals to provide the best possible care for patients. As nurses become more familiar with this trend, they will need to learn how to work together with other professionals in order to provide the best possible care for patients.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

A Nurse Practitioner career can be incredibly rewarding. It offers the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, while also providing you with the chance to develop your own clinical expertise.

To become a Nurse Practitioner, you will need to complete an accredited nurse practitioner program and pass the National Certification Examination for Nurse Practitioners (NCEND). You will also need to obtain a state license to practice.

Related: How to Write a Nurse Practitioner Resume

Advancement Prospects

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are among the fastest-growing occupations. Employment of NPs is projected to grow 36 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the demand for health care services grows, NPs will be needed to provide primary and specialty health care services. NPs are expected to play a larger role in providing care to patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

NPs also will be needed to provide care to an aging population of baby boomers. The number of people in the United States aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 46 million in 2016 to over 98 million by 2060. As the baby boomer population ages, they will be more likely to have age-related health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

With additional training, NPs can specialize in a particular area of health care, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or women’s health. Some NPs may choose to pursue a doctoral degree to prepare for careers in research or teaching.

Nurse Practitioner Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we’re looking for a nurse practitioner to join our team and provide high-quality, compassionate care to our patients. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in women’s health and be able to provide primary care services to patients of all ages. He or she will have excellent communication skills and be able to work collaboratively with other members of the healthcare team. The nurse practitioner will be responsible for performing physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and prescribing medications.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve patients by diagnosing and treating acute, episodic, or chronic illnesses
  • Prescribe medications and other treatments, as well as order and interpret diagnostic tests
  • Educate patients about health maintenance, disease prevention, and treatment options
  • Collaborate with other healthcare providers to plan and coordinate patient care
  • Manage patient care through the development and implementation of individualized treatment plans
  • Monitor and document patient progress, as well as response to treatments
  • Modify treatments plans as needed in response to changes in patient condition
  • Provide guidance and support to patients and their families during times of illness or stress
  • Serve as a resource for other healthcare providers on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions
  • Participate in research studies and clinical trials to contribute to the advancement of healthcare
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of advances in healthcare through continuing education and professional development opportunities
  • Adhere to all ethical and legal standards of healthcare

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Registered Nurse (RN) license
  • Master’s degree in Nursing
  • Nurse Practitioner certification
  • 2+ years of experience as an RN, with at least 1 year in a clinical setting
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Compassionate bedside manner
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • 4+ years of experience as an RN, with at least 2 years in a clinical setting
  • Bachelor’s degree in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree
  • Experience working in a hospital or other medical facility
  • Familiarity with electronic health records (EHR) systems

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