Defining the Nurse Practitioner Role

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a master's prepared, advanced practice registered nurse with advanced academic and clinical experience within a specific population.

Patient Populations Served by Nurse Practitioners

Taking a holistic approach that emphasizes preventative care, nurse practitioners play an increasingly vital role in providing primary health care to a variety of populations including:

  • Children
  • Older adults and their families
  • Geriatric patients
  • The acutely ill
  • Those with mental illness

Roles of a Nurse Practitioner

Working directly with patients, NPs can diagnose and manage most common and many chronic illnesses. They are authorized to perform physical examinations, order and interpret diagnostic tests, provide counseling and education, and write prescriptions. NPs have prescriptive privileges of varying degrees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Work Settings for Nurse Practitioners

  • Hospitals
  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
  • Schools
  • Clinics
  • Doctors' offices
  • Your own private practice
  • Various public health care roles

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