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 and personal touch to health care.
All NPs must complete a master's or doctoral degree program and have advanced clinical training beyond their initial professional registered nurse (RN) 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.
NPs are licensed in all states and the District of Columbia, and they 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 and 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:
Specialty areas include:
Sub-specialty areas include:
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.
To learn how NPs got their start, visit AANP's Historical Timeline.