What is a Nurse Practitioner?
This definition is used with permission from the
American College of Nurse Practitioners website: http://www.nurse.org/acnp
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with
academic and clinical experience, which enables him or her to
diagnose and manage most common and many chronic illnesses,
either independently or as part of a health care team. A nurse
practitioner provides some care previously offered only by
physicians and in most states has the ability to prescribe
medications. Working in collaboration with a physician, a nurse
practitioner provides high-quality, cost-effective and
individualized care for the lifespan of patient's special
NPs focus largely on health maintenance, disease
counseling and patient education in a wide variety of settings.
With a strong emphasis on primary care, nurse practitioners are
employed within several specialties, including neonatology,
pediatrics, school health, family and adult health, women's
health, mental health, home care, geriatrics and acute care.
Nurse practitioners are educated through programs that
either a certificate or a master's degree. A registered
nurse is recommended to have extensive clinical experience before
applying to a nurse practitioner program. An intensive
preceptorship under the direct supervision of a physician or an
experienced nurse practitioner, as well as instruction in nursing
theory, are key components to most NP programs.
Lastly, the scope of an NP's practice varies depending
upon each state's regulations. Unnecessary obstacles to an
NP's practice contribute to the rising costs and
inaccessibility of health care for all Americans.
The American College of Nurse Practitioners has a list of position statements which
can be useful when marketing nurse practitioners to insurance companies
and prospective employers.