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Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Nurse practitioners are medical professionals who have advanced training beyond that of a registered nurse. They can treat patients from infancy and beyond, recommend laboratory and diagnostic tests, and are legally allowed to prescribe medications. They are also pivotal in providing preventive suggestions to patients, and they work one on one with patients to help them establish healthy lifestyles.
Many nurse practitioners work alongside doctors, registered nurses, and other medical personnel. Most nurse practitioners work in doctors’ offices and hospitals, but some are employed by colleges and universities and outpatient facilities. Nurse practitioners can also open their own private practices if they specialize in one area of medicine. A nurse practitioner should be comfortable in a leadership position since many times they will be in charge of other registered nurses and employees in a doctor’s office. They must also possess compassion for patients, a genuine desire to work with people and communicate well with them and have the ability to make decisions quickly regarding the health and medical conditions of patients. Their job can be stressful at times, so nurse practitioners must be able to work well under pressure.
Working conditions can be physically demanding, as nurse practitioners are on their feet for long periods of time and they come into contact with many illnesses. Nurse practitioners usually work full-time. Those working in doctors’ offices will have regular office hours, but they are sometimes expected to be on call at various hours of the day. Those nurse practitioners employed in hospitals will often work shifts during the night, on the weekends and on holidays.

Nurse Practitioner Duties

On a daily basis, nurse practitioners might perform the following duties:

  • Perform physical exams
  • Assess patients and then diagnose medical issues
  • Prescribe medications and administer treatment

Nurse practitioners are also known as advanced practice registered nurses.

How To Become A Nurse Practitioner

In order to become a nurse practitioner, one should receive a bachelor’s of science in nursing or a related field from an accredited school and pass a registered nursing state board exam and become licensed. Then, one must attend an accredited nurse practitioner master’s degree or doctorate program and pass the national certification exam for nurse practitioners.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse Practitioner?

It usually takes about 6-8 years to become a nurse practitioner. Four years are spent completing a registered nursing degree or related degree, and then an additional 2 to 4 years earning a master’s degree.

Education Requirements

There are several ways to become a nurse practitioner. The most common route is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing, gain experience in the medical field, and then apply to a nurse practitioner master’s degree program. Some colleges will allow prospective students who have a degree in another field but are registered nurses, the ability to combine the registered nurse and nurse practitioner program. This is called an RN bridge program.
Before gaining admission to a program with a registered nursing degree or a degree in another related area, students will need to satisfy all prerequisite classes in biology, anatomy, and physiology, and statistics and will need a valid state nursing license. Most schools require that all candidates pass a background check and achieve satisfactory scores on an entrance exam. Some programs also prefer that prospective students have experience in the medical field.
Once accepted into a program, candidates will then complete coursework in classes such as Population-Based Approach To Health Care, Clinical Pharmacology, and Pathophysiology. There is also a substantial clinical portion of a nurse practitioner’s degree. Students will spend time utilizing their skills in a variety of healthcare settings in such areas as women’s health, family care, and pediatrics.


Most states require that nurse practitioners pass a national certification exam. In addition to mandatory certification, there are many other specializations that nurse practitioners can become certified in. Specializations include pediatrics, high risk perinatal, cardiac rehabilitation, and public health nursing. Nurse practitioners periodically need to renew their licenses and take continuing education classes.


All nurse practitioners must be licensed. They must be state licensed as registered nurses which requires the passage of a state licensing exam.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for nurse practitioners is excellent. This employment field is expected to grow by 34 percent until from 2012 until 2022. This will result in 37,100 new jobs. New healthcare legislation will make healthcare services available to a larger number of the population, so the demand for nurse practitioners will increase. In addition, there are more people growing older, and they will need access to more healthcare services as they age. Nurse practitioners are also being allowed to perform more procedures, and that will result in more patients using them for their primary care needs instead of doctors.

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