It’s hard for outsiders to understand exactly what nurse practitioners do. You can come across them almost anywhere. Doctors’ offices, hospitals, and in each setting, they have different responsibilities. So what kind of relationship does a nurse practitioner have with patients?
In this article, we set out to answer that question, and explain how the job works. Read on to learn more about the responsibilities of a nurse practitioner.
The responsibilities of a nurse practitioner will depend mostly on where they find themselves in the country. Every state has its own laws about what a nurse practitioner can do. Some allow them to prescribe medications or make diagnoses. Others will allow them to do this only after they’ve consulted with a doctor first.
It’s a good idea to do plenty of research on your local laws before you begin your journey toward becoming a nurse practitioner. The more liberal the laws, the more options you will have for the professional trajectory of your career.
In areas where the laws are liberal enough, a nurse practitioner ostensibly performs the same duties as a primary practitioner. This means that they will see patients for basic wellness appointments, and when the patient is ill. They will fill out prescriptions as needed, and even offer diagnoses.
This level of freedom allows some nurse practitioners to start up their own practices. However, there are many other roles that nurse practitioners can perform.
Working in a Doctor’s Office
Nurse practitioners can very easily fit into any doctor’s office setting. Even in states where laws don’t allow them full autonomy, they will be able to see patients and consult with their MD peers to provide further care.
Doctors’ offices really appreciate having a nurse practitioner on staff as it can free up a considerable amount of time. Where once the doctor took on every sick visit and wellness check, now the nurse practitioner is there to ease off much of the burden.
Consequently, everyone is able to spend a little more time with each patient, and the level of care increases.
Working on a hospital floor
Nurse practitioners can also work on a hospital floor, performing a combination of duties similar to those of both nurses and doctors. Where they end up depends on how they specialize. For example, the previous example describes a Family Nurse Practitioner.
There are also nurse practitioners that specialize in prenatal care, pediatric care, acute care, and so on. The responsibilities of each position vary pretty radically depending on the specifics of the specialty. This gives nurse practitioners an enormous amount of flexibility in how they shape their careers.
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
It’s a long road to becoming a nurse practitioner. To start, you need to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This usually takes four years, though there are accelerated programs that can cut that time in half. Accelerated programs carry their own challenges, but may be a particularly good option for disciplined people who want to start working as a nurse practitioners as quickly as possible.
Through the accelerated program, you can complete your undergraduate and graduate studies in approximately the same amount of time most people spend just getting their undergraduate degree.
Once you’ve got your undergraduate degree, you will need to choose a graduate program specifically focused on NPing. This is when you will choose your specialty. These programs usually take between two and three years to complete but you can speed up the process a little bit by taking heavy courseloads.
Once you’ve completed all of the educational requirements, you will need to fulfill the testing and registration guidelines set out by your state. This will usually involve fees. In fact, heavy expenses are typically incurred at every step of the journey. Financing and scholarship opportunities can take some of the sting out, but in most cases, it will be a considerable cost no matter what.
That’s alright though because if you’ve followed these steps, you’re there. You’ve arrived at the lucrative and emotionally rewarding career path of a nurse practitioner.
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.