What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education (generally a minimum of a master's degree) and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. Nurse practitioners provide a broad range of health care services.
Because the profession is state regulated, care provided by NPs varies. A nurse practitioner's duties may include the following:
- Diagnosing, treating, evaluating and managing acute and chronic illness and disease (e.g., pneumonia, diabetes, high blood pressure)
- Obtaining medical histories and conducting physical examinations
- Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays, EKGs)
- Prescribing medications
- Prescribing physical therapy and other rehabilitation treatments
- 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
- Performing minor surgeries and procedures (e.g., dermatological biopsies, suturing, casting)
- Collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed, including providing referrals
- Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors, self-care skills, and treatment options