What's an NP?
NPs are quickly becoming the health partner of choice for millions of Americans. As clinicians that blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to health care. Read on and learn why Americans make over 600 million visits to NPs every year.
Education & Training
All NPs must complete a master's or doctoral degree program, and have advanced clinical training beyond their initial professional registered nurse preparation. Didactic and clinical courses prepare nurses with specialized knowledge and clinical competency to practice in primary care, acute care and long-term health care settings.
To be recognized as expert health care providers and ensure the highest quality of care, NPs undergo rigorous national certification, periodic peer review, clinical outcome evaluations, and adhere to a code for ethical practices. Self-directed continued learning and professional development is also essential to maintaining clinical competency.
Additionally, to promote quality health care and improve clinical outcomes, NPs lead and participate in both professional and lay health care forums, conduct research and apply findings to clinical practice.
License & Practice Locations
NPs are licensed in all states and the District of Columbia, and practice under the rules and regulations of the state in which they are licensed. They provide high-quality care in rural, urban and suburban communities, in many types of settings including clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care sites, private physician or NP practices, nursing homes, schools, colleges, and public health departments.
Autonomously and in collaboration with health care professionals and other individuals, NPs provide a full range of primary, acute and specialty health care services, including:
- Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests such as lab work and x-rays.
- Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, and injuries.
- Prescribing medications and other treatments.
- Managing patients' overall care.
- Educating patients on disease prevention and positive health and lifestyle choices.
Specialty areas include:
- Acute Care
- Adult Health
- Family Health
- Gerontology Health
- Neonatal Health
- Pediatric/Child Health
- Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Women's Health
Sub-specialty areas include:
- Allergy & Immunology
- Hematology & Oncology
- Occupational Health
- Pulmonology & Respiratory
- Sports Medicine
What sets NPs apart from other health care providers is their unique emphasis on the health and well-being of the whole person. With a focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and health education and counseling, NPs guide patients in making smarter health and lifestyle choices, which in turn can lower patients' out-of-pocket costs.
Why NPs are Important
- NP credibility - NPs are more than just health care providers; they are mentors, educators, researchers, and administrators. Their involvement in professional organizations and participation in health policy activities at the local, state, national, and international levels helps to advance the role of the NP and ensure that professional standards are maintained.
- Lower health-care costs - By providing high-quality care and counseling, NPs can lower the cost of health care for patients. For example, patients who see NPs as their primary care provider often have fewer emergency room visits, shorter hospital stays and lower medication costs.
- Patient satisfaction - With almost 600 million visits made to NPs each year, patients report an extremely high level of satisfaction with the care they receive.
- Primary care shortage solution - By offering high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care, NPs provide approximately 171,000 solutions to the primary care shortage facing America today.
Wonder how early nurse practitioners got their start? Find out with a visit to our Historical Timeline.