Nurse Practitioner (NP)

What is a nurse practitioner (NP)?

A nurse practitioner is a healthcare provider who is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced training and education. NP typically have a master’s or a doctorate in nursing and must be licensed in their state.

NPs offer a wide range of acute and specialty care services either alone or alongside a doctor. Typical specialties for NPs include pediatric care, geriatrics, family practice or psychiatry.

What is the difference between a registered nurse (RN) and a nurse practitioner (NP)?

Both registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) focus on patient observation and care, however, NPs tend to have a broader scope and authority than RNs.

NPs have additional education as it requires an advanced degree and additional clinical experience compared to RNs.

NPs also prescribe treatments, order tests and diagnose patients, while RNs do not. RNs typically work under a healthcare provider such as a physician or NP who determines patient care, diagnoses and follow-up, while NPs work more autonomously. In some states, NPs can even practice independently and serve the role of a primary care provider without the oversight of a physician.

What is the difference between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a doctor?

The most significant difference between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a doctor is the amount of schooling. Doctors typically receive more schooling than NPs and attend a four-year medical school and complete an accredited residency training program. NPs also are licensed differently than doctors.

Additionally, in some states, NPs need to have a doctor sign off on certain patient care decisions, while in other states, NPs can work more autonomously.

Why are nurse practitioners (NPs) important in healthcare?

Nurse practitioners (NP) are important in healthcare as they’re helping to play a critical role in addressing the physician shortage. NPs can offer high-quality, cost-effective patient-centric care, helping to take the burden off primary care providers.

Additionally, patients may find it easier to schedule appointments with NPs and that the appointments are less expensive than seeing a doctor.