Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nursing professionals (APRNs) who occupy a space between physicians and staff nurses. They assess patients, perform basic diagnostic testing and initiate treatment plans. Nurse practitioners bring a holistic approach to patient care by evaluating all factors that impact a person’s health. This wider perspective allows NPs to identify lifestyle choices and disease management steps for patients to improve their health.

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

NPs hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). They must also have already passed the NCLEX-RN exam and have an active license. MSN programs that qualify nurse practitioners are aligned by patient population; aspiring NPs choose among specialties in women’s health, pediatrics, gerontology, family health, psychiatry, oncology or adult health. In many specializations, NPs must maintain active certification through an industry-approved governing body.

In day-to-day practice, a nurse practitioner’s duties can vary widely. Typical tasks can include:

  • Taking verbal patient histories
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, including labs and imaging
  • Prescribing medication
  • Administering immunizations
  • Developing and managing treatment plans
  • Performing in-office procedures
  • Treating minor injuries
  • Diagnosing acute and chronic illnesses
  • Developing policies
  • Educating and counseling patients

Potential Work Settings

  • Family practice clinics
  • Pediatric clinics
  • Specialty clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Schools
  • Emergency rooms
  • Urgent care treatment centers

What Does It Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Skills

Observant

Nurses often make assessments based on conversations with patients or family members. Sometimes though, there are barriers to effective communication. Patients may be unfamiliar with medical jargon, nervous about being at the doctor’s office or less than fluent in spoken English. Nurses must have strong active listening and observational skills to identify problems quickly. Visual cues can also provide additional information that patients may be unable to articulate; for example, sweating may indicate fever, or a change in respiration could indicate pain.

Self-confident

Nurse practitioners often work with little physician oversight. To independently assess, diagnose and treat patients as physicians do, an NP must be confident in their ability to develop effective treatment plans.

Compassionate

Compassion is the cornerstone of nursing; all patients need to hear that their discomfort and illness is acknowledged. Distraught family members also benefit from the gentle reassurance that nurses are doing everything they can to help the patient. Very young or very old patients may have difficulty expressing their needs or be more afraid of the clinical environment, situations that require extra empathy from nurse practitioners.

Communicative

NPs spend most of each day in contact with patients, families and colleagues. Successful nurse practitioners must be able to work effectively in each encounter, regardless of other people’s communication style. Adaptability and the ability to collaborate with personalities from diverse backgrounds are essential for success in this field.

Critical Thinking

Nurse practitioners are trained in a constantly updated body of knowledge. Shrewd decision-making in high-pressure clinical environments demands that NPs quickly sift through critical information, weighing patient desires, medical history and available resources to develop an effective treatment plan.

Healthy

Nursing is a physically demanding profession. Nurse practitioners often work long hours without breaks, lifting patients and managing equipment. To withstand these working conditions, NPs must be in excellent shape, reinforced by a healthy lifestyle.

Emotionally Stable

Nurses share a close relationship with their patients, and it can be difficult to maintain healthy boundaries. Emotionally draining days are not uncommon, and nurses are no strangers to worry, fear and grief. NPs must maintain their professionalism in the face of personal reactions, however strong, and to compartmentalize stress so that it doesn’t overflow into non-working hours.

Organization and Attention to Detail

Nurse practitioners typically work in a fast-paced environment. Nurses who see many patients throughout the day have little time to stop and regroup, and staying organized in this environment is crucial to effective performance. Details can mean everything in this profession: as an example, proper medical record-keeping demands accuracy and legal compliance with privacy law, while responsible medication prescription practice requires strong attention to detail.

Nurse Practitioner Information and Job Outlook

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?

$82,780+$91,030+$99,280+$107,520+
Nurse Practitioner: Average Salary by State This map presents average annual salary for the occupation Nurse Practitioner in each state in the U.S. Average Annual Salary in HI: $115,870 HI Average Annual Salary in AK: $115,670 AK Average Annual Salary in FL: $92,530 FL Average Annual Salary in NH: $100,000 NH Average Annual Salary in MI: $92,260 MI Average Annual Salary in VT: $91,030 VT Average Annual Salary in ME: $94,400 ME Average Annual Salary in RI: $101,130 RI Average Annual Salary in NY: $104,510 NY Average Annual Salary in PA: $88,480 PA Average Annual Salary in NJ: $106,060 NJ Average Annual Salary in DE: $97,300 DE Average Annual Salary in MD: $93,020 MD Average Annual Salary in VA: $96,420 VA Average Annual Salary in WV: $88,780 WV Average Annual Salary in OH: $92,830 OH Average Annual Salary in IN: $93,200 IN Average Annual Salary in IL: $85,410 IL Average Annual Salary in CT: $99,180 CT Average Annual Salary in WI: $93,170 WI Average Annual Salary in NC: $96,020 NC Average Annual Salary in MA: $107,230 MA Average Annual Salary in TN: $91,950 TN Average Annual Salary in AR: $97,680 AR Average Annual Salary in MO: $89,690 MO Average Annual Salary in GA: $90,490 GA Average Annual Salary in SC: $88,460 SC Average Annual Salary in KY: $93,230 KY Average Annual Salary in AL: $91,000 AL Average Annual Salary in LA: $96,510 LA Average Annual Salary in MS: $99,080 MS Average Annual Salary in IA: $92,770 IA Average Annual Salary in MN: $102,640 MN Average Annual Salary in OK: $82,880 OK Average Annual Salary in TX: $102,070 TX Average Annual Salary in NM: $100,490 NM Average Annual Salary in KS: $84,270 KS Average Annual Salary in NE: $90,240 NE Average Annual Salary in SD: $90,210 SD Average Annual Salary in ND: $88,520 ND Average Annual Salary in WY: $90,400 WY Average Annual Salary in MT: $92,800 MT Average Annual Salary in CO: $101,290 CO Average Annual Salary in ID: $94,040 ID Average Annual Salary in UT: $93,110 UT Average Annual Salary in AZ: $102,720 AZ Average Annual Salary in NV: $95,450 NV Average Annual Salary in OR: $111,160 OR Average Annual Salary in WA: $100,530 WA Average Annual Salary in CA: $115,460 CA

  • Median Hourly Wage: $45.00
  • Mean Salary: $86,211

Source: Data taken from Payscale and The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed: December 2015.

Nurses Are in Demand

2M 3M 4M 2010 2015 2020 2.74 Million Jobs 3.45 Million Jobs
  • 712,000 New Jobs
  • 495,500 Replacement Jobs
  • 10.2 Million by 2020
  • 26% More Nursing Jobs Expected to Be Created between 2010 and 2020

Source: Data taken from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed: December 2015.

Meet a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioner Resources

Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

In alphabetical order, here are some accredited online nurse anesthetist programs for your review.

Remember: Before enrolling, please be sure to double-check that the program is accredited, offered online during your period of study, and all eligibility and licensing requirements meet your situation.

If you are an accredited, not-for-profit institution that offers an online nurse anesthetist program and that isn’t listed, please contact us with details about your program, a link to your program page and proof of accreditation.

Nursing Programs

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