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Nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioner Lt. Cmdr. Michael Service cares for a young girl at the U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka.
Occupation type
healthcare professional
Activity sectors
healthcare, advanced practice registered nurse
Education required
Master's degree or doctorate. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommends complete transition to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) by 2015.
Related jobs
nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist

Nurse practitioners (NP) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who are educated and trained to provide health promotion and maintenance through the diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and chronic condition. According to the International Council of Nurses, an NP/advanced practice registered nurse is "a registered nurse who has acquired the knowledge base, decision-making skills, and clinical competencies for expanded practice beyond that of an RN, the characteristics of which would be determined by the context in which he or she is credentialed to practice."[1]


  • Overview 1
  • History 2
  • Scope of practice 3
    • United States 3.1
  • Education, licensing, and board certification 4
    • United States 4.1
    • Australia 4.2
    • France 4.3
    • Other countries 4.4
  • Salary 5
  • Increasing need for NPs in the US 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Nurse practitioners (NPs) manage acute and chronic medical conditions, both physical and mental, through history and physical exam and the ordering of diagnostic tests and medical treatments. NPs are qualified to diagnose medical problems, order treatments, perform advanced procedures, prescribe medications, and make referrals for a wide range of acute and chronic medical conditions within their scope of practice. In addition to building upon and expanding their nursing knowledge and skills, the nurse practitioner also learns medicine and uses medical diagnoses and medical treatments in their practice. NPs work in hospitals, private offices, clinics, and nursing homes/long term care facilities. Some nurse practitioners contract out their services for private duty.

In the United States, depending upon the state in which they work, nurse practitioners may or may not be required to practice under the supervision of a physician. In consideration of the shortage of primary care/internal medicine physicians, many states are eliminating "collaborative practice" agreements and nurse practitioners are able to function independently.[2] NPs—particularly in the area of primary care/internal medicine—fulfill a vital need for patient healthcare services, and the nurse practitioner works with physicians, medical/surgical specialists, pharmacists, physical therapists, social workers, occupational therapists, and other healthcare professionals to achieve the best outcomes for patients.

NPs may serve as a patient's primary healthcare provider and they may treat patients of all ages depending upon their specialty. With commensurate education and experience, nurse practitioners may specialize in areas such as cardiology, dermatology, oncology, pain management, surgical services, orthopedics, women's health, and other specialties. Similar to all healthcare professions, the core philosophy of the nurse practitioner role is individualized care that focuses on a patient's medical issues as well as the effects of illness on the life of a patient and his or her family. NPs tend to concentrate on a holistic approach to patient care, and they emphasize health promotion, patient education/counseling, and disease prevention. The main classifications of nurse practitioners are: adult (ANP); acute care (ACNP); gerontological (GNP); family (FNP); pediatric (PNP); neonatal (NNP); and psychiatric-mental health (PMHNP). Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) is a classification that has recently evolved.

In addition to providing a wide range of healthcare services, nurse practitioners may conduct research, teach, and are often active in patient advocacy and in the development of healthcare policy at the local, state, and national level.


The advanced practice nursing role began to take shape in the mid-20th century United States. Nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives were established in the 1940s, followed by psychiatric nursing in 1954. The present day concept of the APRN as a primary care provider was created in the mid-1960s, spurred on by a shortage of medical doctors. The first official training for nurse practitioners was created by Henry Silver, a physician, and Loretta Ford, a nurse, in 1965, with a vision to help balance rising healthcare costs, increase the number of healthcare providers, and correct the inefficient distribution of health resources.

Scope of practice

United States

In the United States, because the profession is state-regulated, care provided by NPs varies and is limited to their education and credentials. Some NPs seek to work independently of physicians, while in some states a collaborative agreement with a physician is required for practice.[3][4] The extent of this collaborative agreement, and the role, duties, responsibilities, nursing treatments, pharmacologic recommendations, etc. again varies widely amongst states of licensure/certification.[5][6][7] practice.[8][9][10][11]

The "Pearson Report" provides a current state-by-state breakdown of the specific duties an NP may perform in the state.[12] A nurse practitioner's role may include the following:

  • Medical diagnosis, treatment, evaluation, and management of a wide range of acute and chronic diseases
  • Obtaining patient histories and conducting physical examinations
  • Ordering and performing diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays and EKGs)
  • Requesting physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation treatments
  • Prescribing drugs for acute and chronic illness (extent of prescriptive authority varies by state regulations)
  • Providing prenatal care and family planning services
  • Providing well-child care, including screening and immunizations
  • Providing primary and specialty care services, health-maintenance care for adults, including annual physicals
  • Providing care for patients in acute and critical care settings and long care facilities
  • Performing or assisting in minor surgeries and procedures (e.g., dermatological biopsies/procedures, suturing, casting, etc.)
  • Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors, self-care skills, and treatment options in coordination with occupational therapists and other healthcare providers.

Education, licensing, and board certification

United States

The path to becoming a nurse practitioner in the United States begins by earning a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) as a terminal degree. The PhD in nursing focuses on nursing research and nursing education, while the DNP focuses more on clinical practice.

There is an initiative to require the DNP as the entry level degree for all APRN roles, including the nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, and nurse midwife. Those who have a MSN but are currently practicing in an APRN role would be grandfathered into this change. Many universities have started to phase out MSN programs in lieu of this expected change and have devised BSN-DNP programs. NPs may elect to complete a postgraduate residency or fellowship. The majority of such programs focus on primary care; however, specialized programs (e.g., acute care, emergency medicine, cardiology, general surgery, etc.) also exist.

After completing the required education, the NP must pass a national board certifying exam in a specific population focus: acute care, family practice, women's health, pediatrics, adult-gerontology, neonatal, or psychiatric-mental health, which coincides with the type of program from which he or she graduated. After achieving board certification, the nurse practitioners must apply for additional credentials (e.g., APRN license, prescriptive authority, DEA registration number, etc.) at the state and federal level. The nurse practitioner must achieve a certain amount of continuing medical education (CME) credits and clinical practice hours in order to maintain certification and licensure. NPs are licensed through state boards of nursing.



  • The Nurse Practitioner: The American Journal of Primary Health Care
  • AANP Standards for NP practice in retail based clinics
  • CNS and NP Practice in Canada

External links

  1. ^ International Council of Nurses. "Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nurse: Definition and Characteristics". Nursing Matters Fact Sheets. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Defining Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice: Expanding Primary Care Services". ISPUB. 2001-06-09. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  4. ^ Hancock, Jay (2010-04-14). "Jay Hancock's blog: Md. should make nurse practitioners independent". Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  5. ^ Flanagan, Lyndia (October 1998). "Nurse Practitioners: Growing Competition for Family Physicians?". Family Practice Management 5 (9): 34–43.  
  6. ^ Brown, Deonne J. (October 2007). "Consumer perspectives on nurse practitioners and independent practice". Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 19 (10): 523–9.  
  7. ^ Kaplan, Louise; Brown, Marie-Annette (March 2004). "Prescriptive Authority and Barriers to NP Practice". Nurse Practitioner 29 (3): 28–35.  
  8. ^ "Nurse Practitioner Legislation would have reduced barriers to care | Maryland Nurse | Find Articles at BNET". Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  9. ^ "MN2020". MN2020. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  10. ^ "John Crisp: Nurse practitioners' role should be expanded " Abilene Reporter-News". Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Pearson Report"
  13. ^ Website - Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  14. ^ Website - Australian College of
  15. ^ Israeli Ministry of Health - Legislation Library
  16. ^ "Nurse Practitioner Guide" Retrieved 16 April 2015
  17. ^ Hofer, Adam N; Abraham, Jean Marie; Moscovice, Ira (March 2011). "Expansion of Coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Primary Care Utilization". The Milbank Quarterly 89 (1): 69–89.  
  18. ^ Hoyt, K. Sue; Proehl, Jean A. (2012). "Affordable Care Act: implications for APRNs". Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal 34 (4): 287–9.  
  19. ^ Newhouse, Robin P.; Weiner, Jonathan P.; Stanik-Hutt, Julie; White, Kathleen M.; Johantgen, Meg; Steinwachs, Don; Zangaro, George; Aldebron, Jillian; Bass, Eric B. (2012). "Policy implications for optimizing advanced practice registered nurse use nationally". Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice 13 (2): 81–9.  
  20. ^ ADMIN. "High Demand for Nurse Practitioners." Health Care Medical Articles HealthCareerWebcom RSS. N.p., 17 July 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
  21. ^ Occupational Outlook Handbook."Summary." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
  22. ^ Fairman, Julie A.; Rowe, John W.; Hassmiller, Susan; Shalala, Donna E. (2011). "Broadening the Scope of Nursing Practice". The New England Journal of Medicine 364 (3): 193–6.  


See also

Employment of registered nurses and nurse practitioners is expected to increase immensely in the next ten years. Much of the growth came from a result of increase in technology, resulting in better health care and a greater variety of solutions for health problems. Also, life expectancy is getting longer; therefore more patients are living longer and living more active lives. It is further anticipated that the need for NPs will increase because of the passage of the physician assistants."[20] As a result of the PPACA, hospitals and medical care facilities are forced to rethink the demand for nurses and medical professionals. This is mainly because this new Act allows millions of people the opportunity at medical attention that did not have it before, and because there are so many new people in need of medical attention, the need for medical professionals also grows. With the combination of this new Act, and the aging Baby Boomer population, there is expected to be a large increase in the need for medical staff, especially nurse practitioners. According to a study published in American Medical News, Nurse Practitioners jobs are expected to grow up to 130 percent from 86,000 in 2008 to 198,000 in 2025. Though there is some skepticism to these vast figures, they are backed up by many studies and the opinions of very well known medical professionals.[21] As a result of this extreme need for NPs, they are also expected to receive more autonomy, meaning that nurse practitioners would be able to fill the traditional primary care role like a physician would. For an example, a nurse practitioner would be able to prescribe medication without the oversight of a doctor. Many states are passing laws that allow for independent practice of nurse practitioners. "Currently there are 12 states with active legislation looking at utilizing nurse practitioners at the top of their education to meet patient care needs," says Tay Kopanos with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Many nurses and other leaders in healthcare are advocating for overturning laws that require physicians to look over the work of NPs.[22]

Increasing need for NPs in the US

The salary of a nurse practitioner depends on the area of specialization, location, years of experience, level of education, and size of company. Currently, the annual average earning for a nurse practitioner in the U.S. is $106,255.[16]


As of November 2013, NPs were recognized legally in Israel. The law passed on November 21, 2013.[15] Although in the early stages, the Israeli Ministry of Health has already graduated two NP classes - in palliative care and geriatrics. The law was passed in response to a growing physician shortage in specific health care fields, similar to trends occurring worldwide.

There are nurse practitioners in over fifty countries world wide. Although credentials vary by country, most NPs hold at least a master's degree worldwide.

Other countries

The first university diploma of nurse practitioner in France is open in 2015 sept. in "Paris 7 university". It concerns psychiatry and mental health nursing.



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