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What Is A Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse Practitioners (NP), are health professionals whose practice closely resembles that of a doctor. They are the highly educated professionals in the field of nursing and are also known as Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (ARNP). NPs provide care to patients from the newborn to the elderly. What makes NPs different from an RN is how they can diagnose and treat common illness and injuries. NPs conducts thorough physical examinations, diagnose and treat common acute illnesses as well as injuries. They are also allowed to give immunizations. In addition, they can manage high blood pressure problems and diabetes too.

nurse-pratitioner-versus-doctor in the hospitalUnlike, RNs, nurse practitioners can order diagnostic tests and interpret the results for instance EKG results or X-ray. They can prescribe medications too even controlled substances in some states. NPs are also certified to educate and counsel clients with their respective families about healthy habits and options to health care.

Education

To become a nurse practitioner, one must first earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. This four-year study covers both the classroom and clinical learnings. After completing the BSN program, one must undergo a master’s degree program specifically for nurse practitioner training (Nurse Practitioner degree). This added program can take about 2-6 years.

States Where Nurse Practitioners Can Work Autonomously

In some states Nurse Practitioners can do what most doctors can like heading their own primary care practices, prescribing medications and performing minor medical procedures without the supervision of a physician or doctor. Enumerated below are the states NPs have full authority to practice autonomously:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • District of Columbia

In other states, nurse practitioners is required to work with a doctor.

What Differentiates Nurse Practitioners to Doctors?

Although NPs can do what most doctors can, one area where a doctor and nurse practitioner differs is in the field of education. By definition, nurse practitioners are registered nurses who underwent formal education and training in medicine. NPs are trained in caring the sick and expanded their education to diagnosing, treating and managing common illnesses. Doctors, on the other hand, have formal education and training in medicine like how to treat a disease with the use of medications, the procedures to eliminate a disease and etc.

About 80% to 90% of doctor responsibilities can be performed by an NP. Although both health professionals practice medicine, they both have different philosophical approach to care. This is because of the nursing background of an NP – they are more focused to overall patient condition, not only the disease itself.  In addition, the length of a doctor’s education is longer than that of a nurse practitioner.

Another thing that separates nurse practitioners from doctors is their license to practice autonomously in all states. As mentioned above, NPs are only allowed to practice without a doctor’s supervision in some states.

Conclusion

To be a successful , one needs to be compassionate, empathetic and non-judgmental in addition to education and training. Nurse Practitioners are known for their high-quality patient-oriented care and exceptional interpersonal skills which makes them an excellent health care professional.

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