Nurse Practitioner

While some people may want a career in the health field that allows them to work behind the scenes, there are plenty who want to directly work with patients and have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing. Nursing is an excellent field to consider, and becoming a nurse practitioner is the pinnacle of nursing for many in the industry.

A nurse practitioner is a highly skilled professional, and it will take time and energy to become one. Learning more about what they do before you commit yourself to the process of becoming one is important. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has taken additional classes and training in order to provide top-level care. The actually serve in a role that is very similar to a physician since they can diagnose, educate, and even prescribe medicine to their patients. And in 26 states, a nurse practitioner can actually practice medicine independently, with no supervision from a physician.

Common job duties vary greatly, but will usually include the following.

  •                    Perform physical evaluations on a patient
  •                    Take a patient history and review it
  •                    Order tests and other medical procedures for the patient
  •                    Make a diagnosis about the ailment afflicting the patient
  •                    Develop a course of treatment for the injury or illness
  •                    Write prescriptions for medications
  •                    Write referrals for the patient
  •                    Distribute educational materials like pamphlets to the patient
  •                    Perform various medical procedures including drawing blood, biopsies, and more

While they’re not quite as highly trained as a physician, a nurse practitioner regularly handles almost all of the roles that a doctor would. They may also choose a specialized area of training to focus their work in, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiology, school health, or some other area.

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There are several personal traits that can help you in this position. While it’s important to gain the right education and experience from the job, strength in the following areas will help out as well.

  •                    Strong Critical Thinking – Solving problems and analyzing information is vital for diagnosing patients, and you’ll need to have good critical thinking skills in the position.
  •                    Good Communication – Since a major part of your job is to talk to patients, you’ll have to have very strong communication skills if you want to thrive as a nurse practitioner.
  •                    Eye for Detail – Small things can make a big difference in diagnosis and treatment. A good eye for details will help you tremendously.
  •                    Confidence – Your decisions will impact the lives of your patients. You need to have the confidence required to make those decisions without doubting yourself.

Nature of the Work

The job places you in the front line of the health care field. Most of the work will be done in exam rooms, labs, and procedure rooms. The majority of any day will be spent interacting with patients in one capacity or another. You’ll also spend some time in your office, filing reports or working on other basic duties. It’s not uncommon to visit conferences and seminars, either, and in most cases you’ll spend time consulting with physicians and other health professionals as well.

Jobs are found almost anywhere, with nurse practitioners working in health centers, hospitals, private physician practices, college campuses, and nursing homes. Roughly 15% of all nurse practitioners actually have their own private practice as well, adding even more possibility to the job prospects this career has to offer.

Education and Training

Becoming a nurse practitioner takes an investment of time and energy. You’ll need to complete a program and earn a master’s degree in the field. The education includes a wide range of subjects related to the health industry. Next, you’ll have to gain certification through a nursing organization. Often, the exam will focus on a specialized area of practice such as pediatrics or acute care. Licensure is also required in most states, and you’ll need to become licensed and maintain that licensure. Finally, continuing education is required throughout the career. Periodically you’ll need to take and complete continuing education classes.

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The average salary for a nurse practitioner is about $90,000 per year, a figure that is well above the national average. Additionally, job demand is expected to grow over the coming years, making it a very viable career option.

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