What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?

A cornerstone of the modern health care landscape, nurse practitioners provide primary care under the supervision of a licensed physician. They may work in hospitals, physician’s offices, or urgent care centers. As the population of the United States ages and baby boomers become senior citizens, nurse practitioners will be increasingly relied upon to provide preventive and other types of care. Read on to learn more about the role of a nurse practitioner and the credentials they hold.

The Job of a Nurse Practitioner

While the tasks a nurse practitioner is allowed to perform vary from state to state, all provide some level of patient care and education. They may take medical histories, determine or update a care plan, perform physical exams and diagnostic tests, make diagnoses, prescribe medications and treatment, operate and monitor medical equipment, provide counseling to patients and families, and conduct research. About half of nurse practitioners work in doctor’s offices, while others work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, and at colleges and universities. Special types of master’s level nurses, nurse anesthetists, help administer and monitor medication during surgical procedures. Another specialist nurse practitioner, a nurse midwife, provides prenatal care and delivers babies as well as general women’s health care.

Education and Training

Before becoming licensed, nurse practitioners must earn a master’s degree from an accredited program. To enroll in these types of programs, you must usually first earn your bachelor of science in nursing and spend time working as a registered nurse. Master’s programs include a combination of classroom and clinical experience. After graduating, you must take an exam to become certified through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Maintaining certification typically requires completion of a certain number of continuing education credit hours each year.

Salary and Job Outlook

Nurse practitioners earn an average annual salary of about $96,000 per year. This position is in high demand, projected to grow by 33 percent between now and 2022. For that reason, this is an excellent choice for anyone who is interested in a high paying, stable career in the healthcare field with plenty of room for advancement.