The Nurse Practitioner: FAQs about Nurse Practitioner Programs

Common Questions with NP Programs

Here are some FAQs about Nurse practitioner programs and other information you need to know about nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners, for starters, are professionals that have distinct roles from other health care providers.

FAQs about Nurse Practitioner Programs

Who is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is a professional who finished a Master’s or a Doctoral Degree. This of course is different from the usual bachelor’s degree most nurses finish. Completing a masters or doctorate degree equips the professional to more specific and complex skills. While a bachelor’s degree equips future nurse professionals to entry level nursing practice (a more general practice), master’s or doctoral programs equip them to complete specialized tasks and other responsibilities on a higher level. Nurse practitioners are experts on specialized fields of health care. Nurse anesthetists, psychiatric nurses, and medical-surgical nurses are just some examples.

How did it start?

The advanced practice of nursing (or nurse practitioners) first began in the United States during the 1940s. Among the first nurse practitioners were nurse anesthetists, midwives, and psychiatric nurses. During the 1960’s, nurse practitioners focused on community health emerged as a result of shortage of physicians. Five years later the first and official training program for nurse practitioners was created. This program aimed to help in the rising health care costs, insufficient health care providers, and help in the unequal distribution of resources. From then on advanced nursing practice evolved and became a part of the nursing profession.

Nurse Practitioner’s Educational Background, Certification, and Licensing

This is one of the FAQs about Nurse Practitioner Programs. An educational requirement for a nurse practitioner is a master’s or a doctoral degree. In order to qualify, candidates must first complete their bachelor’s degree and the necessary clinical experience in order to get into the program. Entry to the master’s or doctoral degree depends on state regulations and universities, but it is a definite fact that some of them would require completion of an educational requirement (usually a bachelor’s degree), a certain length of clinical experience, or both. After completing their graduate–level education, the candidate must then acquire a certification in the chosen field of specialization.

What about those with no bachelor’s degree?
Those who have completed associate degrees in nursing, such as diploma nursing and associate degree nursing, may be required to complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN program or complete bridging programs such as ADN to MSN/MN programs in order to be a nurse practitioner.

The Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice: What do they do?

Other important FAQs about nurse practitioner programs are the scope of practice. Although this would vary from country to country, nurse practitioners somewhat share a common responsibility and that is to work in their specialized fields with a degree of independence.

In the U.S. a nurse practitioner’s scope of practice is state regulated, and their scope of practice also varies from state to state. The nurse practitioner’s responsibilities revolve around the diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of certain diseases. They may work independently from a physician or collaboratively with them and other health care professionals. They also assume similar responsibilities with a physician in a sense that they can also prescribe medications and order diagnostic procedures for a particular patient.

According to the International Council of Nurses, nurse practitioners entail concepts of research, practice, management, and education in implementing interventions. Furthermore their practice is characterized by a high degree of autonomy and independence. The scope of practice of nurse practitioners requires from them a high degree of competence, and that is why advanced skills in assessment, decision making, and diagnosing is highly required.  Consultation services are also included in their scope of practice. To give you more details about these important FAQs about nurse practitioner programs, here is a list of the specific roles of a nurse practitioner:

  • Diagnosis, treatment, management and evaluation of acute and chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.
  • History taking and implementation of Physical Examinations
  • Ordering the necessary diagnostic procedures for the client, performing and interpreting them as well. Examples of these are lab tests, ECGs and X-rays.
  • Prescribing medications (varies from state to state), physical therapy, and other rehab procedures.
  • Caring for well children, implementing immunizations
  • Giving prenatal care and family health services
  • Caring for patients in both acute and critical setting
  • Health maintaining services for adults, yearly physical exams, providing primary and specialized type of care
  • Performing or assisting in minor surgeries such as suturing, biopsies, and applying casts (requires additional training, physician supervision and varies from state to state)
  • Counseling and health teachings

Where do they Work?

Nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings, which includes:

  • Primary care centers such as community clinics and health centers
  • HMOs or Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Home Health Care
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Hospice Care
  • Private clinics or offices
  • Nursing schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Physician offices
  • School/ university clinics
  • Out-patient clinics

How much is a Nurse Practitioner’s Salary?
A nurse Practitioner’s salary is at an average of $89,450, this according to the AANP.

See also Nursing brain sheet

What are the Advantages of Having Nurse Practitioners?

Nurse practitioners greatly help in the health care industry as they are one of the solutions to the shortage of physicians in the country. Because they are trained on specialized areas and have adequate knowledge in advanced practices, they can assume some of the responsibilities of a physician. In communities for example, where the number of physicians do not cater to the number of patients, nurse practitioners serve as important health care providers. Patients do not need to wait for physicians to diagnose, treat, or manage their conditions; nurse practitioners can do that job independently and competitively.  In emergency settings, having a nurse practitioner respond to an emergency is also advantageous especially when a physician is not readily available. NPs can already diagnose the condition and treat it while waiting for the arrival of a physician. Having nurse practitioners care for patients with chronic illnesses is also advantageous financially. Professional fees are lesser with nurse practitioners and so patients can save more money especially if the care is on a routine basis.

These FAQs about nurse practitioner programs provided by this site helps us better understand the necessary information about nurse practitioners.