What is a nurse practitioner (NP)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who is prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. 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 supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance; and refer patients to other health professionals as needed. Currently NPs complete masters degree graduate education preparation. In addition NPs are certified in their area of practice. By 2015 becoming a NP will require completion of a doctoral level graduate degree, the doctor of nursing practice (DNP).

Erin Trevey-Pagel
Nursing Specialist

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who provide quality healthcare to all ages. They can diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. They have a unique approach to patient care and treatment. They focus on health promotion, prevention and health education. They treat the whole person, not just the disease or problem.

Susanne Quallich
Advanced Practice Nursing Specialist

Within the context of a clinic appointment, a nurse practitioner does all the same things as physician would do, in terms of assessment, examination, formulation of a diagnosis and plan for care and additional evaluation and treatment. However, NPs do this with an eye more toward the individual and his/her environment and ability to participate with a plan of care. This can result in a more holistic treatment plan that incorporates the person's views and treatment goals.

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has completed advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses.

Tameka White
Nursing Specialist

A nurse practitioner is a healthcare provider who has advanced nursing education-master's prepared by an accredited institution and is licensed to practice in collaboration with a physician for private practice or works as a clinical provider in an inpatient setting such as the hospital. The nurse practitioner may complete education for a chosen specialty such as family nurse practitioner; adult NP; adult acute care NP; cardiac NP.

Marianne Biangone
Nursing Specialist

According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners NP’s are advanced practice nurses who provide high-quality healthcare services similar to those of a physician. NPs diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. They have a unique approach and stress both care and cure. Besides clinical care, NPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. They help patients make wise health and lifestyle choices. They are truly your partners in health.

NPs have areas of specialty in which they can focus, some include: family, gerontology, mental health and women's health.

Lisa Moment
Lisa Moment on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Nursing Specialist

A nurse practitioner is considered an advanced practice nurse. A nurse practitioner is licensed as a registered nurse and has obtained further education through a master's or doctoral level program. Depending on the state, further requirements to practice as a nurse practitioner could include becoming board certified in an area such as family health or acute care.

Nurse practitioners have the ability to assess, diagnose, prescribe medications, make referrals, and treat illnesses in a variety of in-patient and ambulatory settings. The scope of what a nurse practitioner can do is different from state to state.

Dr. Eileen Ginsburg, DNP
Nursing Specialist

Nurse practitioners are nurses with advanced training in the care of many populations. She/he must have at least a master's degree and the doctoral degree will hopefully be the future degree of all new NPs. We are trained in so many different aspects of medical care from Family Health to Research, from Pediatrics to Cancer and End-of-Life Care. Most states require a national certification prior to practicing.

Maria Felipe
Nursing Specialist

The nurse practitioner’s range of practice is vast. He or she will care for the very young, adolescents, adults, the elderly, the sick and the healthy. Among NPs greatest challenges is the attempt to reconcile a fundamentally universal nursing model into a health-care system still mostly concentrated on intermittent and disjointed, disease-oriented care and agreeable to reimburse only for the equivalent (Dunphy et al., 2007). The NP has the unique ability to blend the traditional domain of nursing practice, addressing the realistic needs of clients, lifestyle alterations, health promotion and self-care (Nightingale, 1960) within the scope of an independent practitioner retaining prescriptive privileges, ordering, performing, overseeing and interpreting diagnostic/laboratory tests. APNs also function as health care investigators (focusing on evidence base practice), interdisciplinary advisors and client advocates.

Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

“NP” or “APRN” after a nurse’s name denotes a licensed advanced practice nurse. After certifying as a registered nurse (RN), they continue on to advanced education and clinical training. They are licensed by the state, and many practice specialty and sub-specialty areas of medicine. There are over 300,000 in the United States, and many states have prescribing legislation for these practitioners. While commonly found in medical office settings, these nurses are also part of emergency room (ER) teams.

Your ER Survival Guide: What You Need To Know Before You Go (DocHandal's Guides Book 4)

More About this Book

Your ER Survival Guide: What You Need To Know Before You Go (DocHandal's Guides Book 4)

Few people get through life without at least one trip to the emergency room (ER), either as a patient or support person for a family member or friend.  "Your ER Survival Guide" is the new title for "Doc's ER Survival Guide" it is for non medical persons! It is designed to help calm readers' fears by giving them the lowdown on how an ER operates. The book is written by Kathleen Handal, MD, an emergency physician with over 20 years experience. Handal is a nationally and internationally known emergency medicine physician who authored "The American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook" and co-authored a series of medical textbooks. Included are ten simple steps to follow to get ready for an ER visit, as well as valuable insight into how an ER operates so readers can advocate for the best care possible. Complicated tests and terminology are explained in easy-to-understand terms.Doctors and nurses are making decisions in a fast-paced, stressful environment. Mistakes can and do happen. So the more people know about what to expect the less likely one of those mistakes will happen to them. Reading the book is like having Doc Handal at your side when you need her the most.
Marcy Holmes, MSN, NP
Nursing Specialist

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses, you could say a nurse with much advanced training and a license to also practice medicine! NPs are special to understand health and disease prevention as nurses, but also implement medical model to diagnose and treat ailments or diseases. Many become experts in their field and area of interest, such as menopause clinicians!

When people ask me what a nurse practitioner (NP) does, I always say we're like midwives for adults. We get involved in all aspects of patient care. We treat people from the beginning of their hospital stay through discharge and usually see them again once they've left the hospital, at their post-op visit. Right after heart surgery, patients are transferred to the ICU. The NP keeps a close watch, since there's a 4 in 10 chance that patients will develop a fast or irregular heart rhythm that needs to be treated right away. We also look for symptoms of infection that can sometimes happen after surgery. It's very important to handle quickly any problem that arises. We keep on top of pain management too, ordering all medication and working with patients to make sure they're as comfortable as possible so the healing can begin. Social workers and physical therapists are also a key part of recovery. NPs work with them on a care plan, getting patients ready to go home. Our relationship with patients doesn't end when they leave the hospital. We're available in case they have any questions about their progress, especially about the medication they've taken home with them.

Patients see the NP one more time when they come back to the hospital for a follow-up visit. It's a good time to review their progress, check their dressing, and get a sense of how their lives are going since their surgery. We can fine-tune their medication and make other suggestions to help them heal faster.

—Laura Seche is the Nurse Practitioner Coordinator for the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery (at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital)

Carolyn Robinson
Nursing Specialist

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has an advanced education; a master's degree and they receive training in diagnosing and in the management of various medical conditions. Some of them manage chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. They counsel and educate patients and family. They teach self-care management skills, they treat, orders, perform and interpret diagnostic tests. Many nurse practitioners provide the same care that a physician provides. Nurse practitioner can serve as a primary health care provider and can see patients of different ages. Nurse practitioner duties can vary depending on the area of care.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.