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Nurse Practitioner Job Description, Career as a Nurse Practitioner, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Must be a registered nurse; nurse practitioner license required

Median Salary: $82,590 annually

Job Prospects: Very good

Job Description

Nurse practitioners often work as the initial point of entry for a patient. They have extensive experience and possess a specialized advanced degree allowing them to diagnose and treat patient conditions. Oftentimes a nurse practitioner works as an intricate part of a doctor’s staff, helping with all aspects of patient care.

Although they are not trained to perform the responsibilities of a doctor, they work as a step above a registered nurse. They have nursing training and experience in their background and have achieved the next level required to act in this role. A nurse practitioner assists with performing physical exams, meeting with patients to diagnose conditions, or being the first line of defense for doctors in an office.

A nurse practitioner is responsible for fielding calls from patients within an office when they are seeking medical advice; this is particularly true in an OB/GYN office. The extent to which an individual works within this role as it pertains to patient care varies by state. The licensing requirements and associated responsibilities are mandated by the state, so there is a wide variation. In some states, the nurse practitioner works independently from a physician. In other states, they work hand in hand with the doctor in an office, acting as the first point of contact in patient care.

Nurse practitioners typically help in seeing patients and understanding their specific needs. They collect family history, conduct physical exams, diagnose acute and chronic illnesses, and order or perform diagnostic tests. Depending on the specific environment they work within, they may perform well baby checkups or provide prenatal care.

Training/Educational Requirements

A nurse practitioner has all the credentials required to be a registered nurse as a first step. This includes a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as well as a license to practice as a registered nurse in their home state. In this role, they generally have a master’s degree and additional training. To work as a nurse practitioner, the individual must have a specific license for this role. The requirements for obtaining this license varies by state. The scope of responsibilities an individual can practice varies by state, too.

Generally this is the next step for somebody working as a registered nurse. Although this is not a physician role requiring medical school, it does require an advanced degree and specific training. It also requires passing a licensing exam to work as a nurse practitioner in the individual’s home state.

How to Get Hired

It is helpful to gain experience within a hospital or physician’s office to get hired into this role. Nurse practitioners bring valuable education and experience with them so they are valuable to such environments. In some cases, an individual works their way up in a doctor’s office as they gain the necessary license and education.

Having experience as a registered nurse prepares an individual to get hired into a role as a nurse practitioner. Not only does the experience help them to get hired, but also working as part of a hospital of physician office lends way to obtaining this next level. If working in a hospital setting, an individual can apply for a role as a nurse practitioner once it becomes available. If attempting to get hired into a physician’s office directly, it is helpful to demonstrate experience. Having a license as a nurse practitioner is a valuable enough tool to get an individual hired.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Job growth within the healthcare industry continues to grow as a whole. In tough economic times, this is one industry that continues to have needs to deal with patient care. The role of a nurse practitioner is valuable for a physician’s office or hospital since it is a comprehensive role. The individual in this role not only possesses the ability to diagnose and treat patient conditions, they have a background in nursing as well. This puts nurse practitioners in high demand with their experience and ability in dealing with patients to the table.

Since the licensing and overall educational requirements are greater for this role, the potential for growth is higher. This is a valuable role since a nurse practitioner offers greater ability than that of a registered nurse. The need and popularity of a nurse practitioner has grown exponentially since the 1960’s when the role was first instituted. Many hospitals, educational institutions, and physician’s offices alike have seen the value a nurse practitioner brings to their staff. This contributes to the potential job growth in this field.

Working Environment

Generally speaking, most nurse practitioners work within a medical environment. However, that has evolved and changed quite significantly in recent years. Nurse practitioners work within a wide variety of environments including home health care agencies, health departments, health clinics, nursing homes, as well as schools and universities. As more institutions begin to see the value a nurse practitioner brings, they will hire them in as a part of the staff.

Although the potential for different environments continues to grow and evolve, the majority of nurse practitioners still work within a hospital or physician office setting. They work within a specialty such as pediatrics, gynecology, or NICU, or work on a more general basis. Some nurse practitioners work on a private basis as part of a hospice or home health care agency, and deal with individual patient care in their homes.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary range for a nurse practitioner is about $82,590 a year. The range varies widely by the environment which they work within as well as the geographical location. The range is usually about $75, 838 to about $89,392 per year, but it varies widely depending on there work setting. Most nurse practitioners receive typical benefits such as paid vacation and sick days, as well as medical benefits. They may receive additional benefits if they are a part of a union.

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