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Nurse practitioner

What is a Nurse Practitioner & What Do They Do?

If you are interested in becoming a healthcare professional but do not want to take on medical school and all of the years that role requires, working as a nurse practitioner might be the right choice for you. Nurse practitioners can do more than traditional nurses and have more training, allowing them to take on advanced responsibilities in medicine. Here’s a closer look at what a nurse practitioner is and how you can become one.

Understanding the Role: What Are NPs?

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who perform many of the same duties as a doctor. They have advanced training and more clinical education than a registered nurse. To become one, these professionals must have a graduate-level degree in nursing.

These professionals are found in most settings that employ doctors and nurses. You will find them assisting in physician’s offices and clinics. They also practice in hospitals and urgent care facilities. Some will work in senior care facilities and even in educational settings where healthcare is necessary. In some states, they can practice as solo practitioners as well. Sometimes, nurse practitioners carry the title of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), but the training and duties are the same.

What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?

What does a nurse practitioner do? According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NPs will collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide a wide range of services. These include:

  • Ordering or performing lab tests and x-rays to diagnose conditions.
  • Diagnosing and treating conditions, including chronic conditions.
  • Managing patient care
  • Providing patient education and counseling.
  • Encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.

In addition, nurse practitioners can become specialized in a medical specialty, such as oncology or pediatric care, to perform more specific roles within health care.

In general, an NP can perform many of the primary care duties of a doctor. As many as 69% of nurse practitioners deliver primary care services. Some states even allow them to practice with full practice authority without a doctor’s oversight, while other states require them to have certain decisions for their patients approved by a doctor. Because NPs are trained using the nursing model, they may have a more patient-focused approach to care than a medical doctor.

Is a Nurse Practitioner a Doctor?

Nurse practitioners can hold doctoral degrees, but it’s not a requirement. Nurse practitioners don’t have the same level of training as a doctor, so they are not medical doctors. However, they have many of the same roles as doctors.

Can a Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medication?

Yes, nurse practitioners can prescribe medication for their patients in some states. This rule is state-specific, and some states don’t allow it.

What Can Nurse Practitioners Not Do?

Though nurse practitioners can do many of the same procedures and care services as doctors, there are some they cannot do. These include:

  • Perform major surgery
  • Deliver babies alone
  • Be anesthesiologists
  • Be ophthalmologists
  • Perform some roles in skilled nursing facilities, such as admission exams and monthly assessments

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Working as a nurse practitioner can be both rewarding and challenging. It gives you the chance to put your nursing training to work in a deeper way. If you are interested in pursuing this career path, this step-by-step guide will get you there.

  • Earn an RN Credential: To become a nurse practitioner, you must first complete training as a registered nurse (RN). Many NPs will get their RN license and start practicing as a nurse, then continue their education while working. You can get your RN credential through an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) program or through a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) program.
  • Work Experience: Though it’s not a requirement, many nurse practitioners will gain a few years of work in the field before they start the clinical training to earn their NP license. This can help you to see where your strengths and interests are in nursing so you can decide about specializing.
  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: Nurses who start with an ADN may choose to complete an RN-to-BSN program before moving into a nurse practitioner program.
  • Graduate School: Next, nurse practitioners need to gain a graduate degree in nursing. This can be a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice if you already hold a master’s degree. Either degree is sufficient to take the nurse practitioner examination.
  • Get Licensed: The final step in the process is taking and passing the National NP Certification Board Exam, which allows you to apply for an NP license in your state.

Advanced eClinical Training Resources for Aspiring Nurse Practitioners

The pathway to becoming a nurse practitioner starts with passing nursing school. Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to improve your chances of acceptance into nursing school, particularly if you’re looking at a highly competitive program. Yet pre-nursing students can struggle to find that clinical experience. Advanced eClinical Training can help.

Through our program, nursing students can obtain pre-nursing certificates through guaranteed clinical externships. These nationally accepted credentials provide hands-on experience and training. This certification makes your nursing school application more appealing. The program also allows you to explore nursing as a career option so you can decide if it’s right for you.

In addition, if you’re unsure what your health care journey may look like, we offer a number of medical certification programs that allow you to affordably explore your options. These programs allow you to get clinical and patient care experience while also exploring various aspects of health care work.

Start Your NP Journey with Advanced eClinical Training

Working as a nurse practitioner allows you to provide superior patient care with a personalized approach. It also offers more income potential than working as an RN, with less time in school than required to become a medical doctor. With Advanced eClinical Training, you can get expert guidance from industry professionals as you navigate the path to becoming a nurse practitioner.

Are you interested in becoming a Nurse Practitioner? Enroll today to gain clinical experience and start your professional journey with Advanced eClinical Training.

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