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Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are specialists that provide patient care for people of all ages who suffer from various health and medical conditions.

NPs are responsible for diagnosing disease and injuries, conducting physical exams, providing a variety of medical treatments, administering immunizations, reviewing medical records, performing evaluations and recommending diagnostic procedures, including lab test, X-rays, and EKGs. They also teach patients how to take preventative care measures, and assist families who are providing care for sick or injured family members.

Unlike licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medications to patients in just about every state nation wide, without the supervision of a doctor.

Working Conditions

Nurse practitioners are employed just about everywhere there is a need for nurses or doctors. They work in medical clinics, managed healthcare clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices, company health centers, college campuses, ICUs, rural hospitals and medical clinics, and various other healthcare facilities. Outside of medical facilities where direct patient care is provided, nurse practitioners can be found working with pharmaceutical companies, medical technology firms, research labals, military bases and various state and federal government agencies.

About 85% of nurse practitioners work as employees for healthcare, medical or private companies. About 15% run their own practices. There are also several nurse-managed medical facilities and healthcare clinics throughout the U.S., where patient care is supervised by nurse practitioners and other specialists.

As the need for medical care increases and there are fewer doctors available to provide it, the demand for qualified nurse practitioners will rise.

Education and Training

Nurse practitioners are required to be licensed registered nurses. They also hold a graduate degree and advanced medical training. Most nurse practitioners earn a master's of nursing science (MSN) degree, which takes about 2 years of schooling in addition to the 4 years required to earn a BSN. Students pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner have various specialties they can choose from, including, occupational health, geriatrics, pediatrics, women's health, men's health, pyschiatry, mental health, oncology, nephrology, and acute care. Within each of these specialities, there various sub-specialties students can choose from.

The best nurse practitioners possess advanced analytical skills and are critical thinkers. They are also excellent communicators as they often must discuss symptoms, treatments, and diagnosese with patients and their families.
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