Nurse Practitioner / NP Nurse

This career falls under the 'Advanced Degree Nurse' umbrella. Being the highest level of education in the nursing field, these advanced degree nursing jobs also earn the highest income and offer a wide variety of job settings.

Job Description:

A nurse practitioner is a mid-level professional who provides patient care and attention under the guidance of a licensed physician. NP's are experienced and authorized to do patient exams and some minor types of procedures and tests. State laws relating to nurse practitioners vary extensively from state to state. In some states, NP's are legally required to practice under the direction of a physician, and need to have a licensed physician to sign off on their work. However, in other states, NP's practice separately from physicians, providing primary care, and may possibly prescribe medications as such. Several of the most common areas of specialization for NP's are: Cardiology, Gerontology/Elder Care, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Primary Care, Gastroenterology, and Oncology. Nurse Practitioners are located most everywhere that doctors work: hospitals, private practice, medical centers, and military hospitals to name a few. Back to top

Education Requirements:

In addition to a four year college degree of nursing, there are numerous advanced degrees in the nursing field which demand a masters of nursing degree or a doctorate degree. In addition to nurse practitioner, other licenses within this field include clinical nursing, nurse anesthetics, psychiatric nursing and nursing midwifery.

Being a nurse practitioner necessitates at least a master's degree and licensing in accordance with state regulations. Aspiring nurse practitioners can start their education by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. Achievement of an undergraduate degree prepares students for entry-level jobs in clinical settings and meets state requirements for licensure as a registered nurse.

Every state requires a practicing nurse to initially pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Supplemental licensing and registration requirements, which typically include background checks and fingerprinting, may be needed at the state level. Before continuing to go after a graduate degree or advanced nursing licensure, an RN license is required.

Registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are interested in turning into NP can qualify for the position by earning a master's or doctoral degree in nursing. Quite a few nurse practitioners are skilled in a specific area of medicine, such as pediatrics or family medicine, during their graduate study. These programs generally take 2-3 years and require students to take courses, seminars and lectures in addition to finishing a clinical residency.

Most states require additional licensure to perform as an advanced practice nurses. Some states require nurse practitioners to acquire special licensing in order to prescribe medication. The most popular requirements include a minimum of a master's degree in advanced nursing, a legitimate RN license and passing a national certification or state-issued examination. Many states require continuing education courses or upkeep of a national certification to renew a license.

The effective completion of a graduate degree program and licensure requirements prepare graduates to sit for certification examinations specific to their careers. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) are two organizations that provide national certification commonly recognized by state nursing boards. Certification usually requires passing an examination, and most organizations require continuing education to maintain the credentials. Back to top


Incorporated into the advanced degree category are Nurse Practitioners that are able to identify and treat patients. These professionals work with physicians mainly in private practice or clinical settings. Nurse Practitioners are one stage below a physician, but they execute many of the same functions as a doctor. Nurse Practitioner salaries vary from a low of $52,000 to a high of $123,000 per year. Back to top


Based on one state Nurse Practitioner Organization, "Nurse practitioners are registered professional nurses who are prepared through advanced graduate education and clinical training, to provide a range of health services, including the diagnosis and management of common as well as complex medical conditions to individuals of all ages."

This highly developed degree requires demanding study and tests through licensure to achieve. Over and above the numerous requirements and tips already listed under the previous nursing positions, NP's might benefits from the following:

  • Networking with other specialists. While beneficial to all careers, networking can allow Nurse Practitioners to find the best fit for their training and specialty. Establishing relationships with other professionals in their place of work or through their graduate studies is a recognized path to success.
  • Continued Education. It does seem unusual that the most advanced degrees carry this tip, but with frequent changes in medical techniques and medicine, this remains one of the most essential things a NP can do to help their career.
  • Handle your degree and career professionally. By keeping an updated resume, creating business cards, joining professional networks, you can contribute to your development as a nurse practitioner.
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Career Outlook:

All four types of advanced practice nurses (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists) will be in particularly high demand over the coming years.

It is an excellent time to earn an advanced nursing degree. In 2010, a document was released urging all nurses to improve their education degrees to meet the issues of an increasingly complex health care environment. "Current healthcare reform initiatives call for a nursing workforce that integrates evidence-based clinical knowledge and research with effective communication and leadership skills, "according to the report, "Without a more educated nursing workforce, the nation's health will be further at risk."

The demand for NP's is going to continue to increase. This is particularly true in non-urban areas, where they are in certain cases all that the community has because it's so difficult to find doctors for these areas. There is a fairly even divide between hospitals and privately owned practices with work opportunities to offer. No magic ball will inform you what your next career move should be, but the existing landscape and developments in NP hiring could help guide you as you make career decisions in the approaching year. In terms of a general picture, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported in 2011 that 52% of NP's work in primary care. The BLS notes that all advanced practice nursing roles "will be in high demand, particularly in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas. Relative to physicians, these RN's increasingly serve as lower-cost primary care providers." The NP career is growing rapidly, with 9,500 to 10,000 new NP's prepared in each of the last 2 years.

Public understanding and approval of NP's as mainstream providers in a variety of healthcare settings is continually broadening, and employers are continuing to acknowledge the value of NP's as providers of cost-effective, personalized, patient-centered care. The foreseeable future for NP jobs has never looked better. Back to top