A Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced education and clinical training who can provide a wide range of healthcare services, including the diagnosis and management of common as well as complex medical conditions. NPs work autonomously and in conjunction with other professionals, including physicians, to provide coordinated, comprehensive, quality health care.
Nurse Practitioners have been providing high quality health care since 1965. Today, over 125 thousand NPs practice nationwide in a variety of settings such as community health centers, university and student health centers, school health clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and private offices. NPs are working almost everywhere healthcare is provided.
How Is Nurse Practitioner practice regulated?
Nurse Practitioners are legally authorized to practice in all 50 states. NP’s practice within the scope of their state’s nurse practice act and provide comprehensive health care including diagnosing common and complex health problems and prescribing medications.
Nurse Practitioners are prepared to practice within a population focus, for example, as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Other options for NP preparation include family, adult, gerontology, pediatrics, neonatal, acute care, or psychiatric health. National board certification in their role demonstrates expert knowledge and continuing competence. Women’s Health NPs are certified by the National Certification Corporation (NCC).
What can a Nurse Practitioner do?
Nurse Practitioners provide holistic, comprehensive health care within their area of specialization and can:
- Evaluate an individual’s health by taking a history, performing a physical examination
- Order and interpret results from laboratory and diagnostic tests/procedures
- Diagnose health and medical conditions by reviewing all available health information and applying advanced clinical decision making skills
- Manage health problems by developing an individualized plan of care
- Prescribe medications or treatments
- Obtain consultations and referrals and coordinating health care services
- Promote health by ordering screenings and prescribing preventive therapies like immunizations, life-style changes such as weight loss, smoking cessation, etc.
Nurse Practitioners typically enjoy teaching and counseling their patients and frequently collaborate with patients, families, and other health care providers to personalize and optimize a patient’s health care plan to the individual needs.