Nurse Practitioner

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Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) have provided health care services to patients for more than 40 years. The nurse practitioner role had its inception in the mid-1960s in response to a nationwide shortage of physicians.

NPs provide primary and some acute care and are qualified to meet the majority of patients' health care needs. They promote a comprehensive approach to health care and emphasize the overall health and wellness of their patients.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who are prepared through advanced education and clinical training to provide preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. Today, most NPs complete graduate-level education that leads to a master's degree. They work independently and collaboratively on the health care team.

NPs take health histories and provide complete physical examinations, diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems, interpret laboratory results and X-rays, prescribe and manage medications and other therapies, provide health teaching and counseling to support healthy lifestyle behaviors and prevent illness, and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.

An NP provides high-quality, cost-effective and individualized care for patients, families and communities. NPs are authorized to practice across the nation and have privileges to prescribe medications in varying degrees in all 50 states.

Career opportunities

Nursing is the largest health care occupation with more than 2 million jobs. Overall, it's one of the 10 occupations projected to have the largest numbers of new jobs. Nurse practitioners are in high demand to provide health promotion, health maintenance and sick care services.

According to the American Nurses Association, approximately 60 to 80 percent of primary and preventive care can be performed by nurse practitioners. The growing emphasis on prevention and public health will continue to create excellent job opportunities for NPs.

Earnings potential

According to the 2012 survey data from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the average annual salary for all specialties of full-time nurse practitioners is $95,000.

Professional organizations

June 30, 2018