What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are 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 to health care.

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced medical education (a master’s degree or greater) and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. NPs provide some of the same care provided by physicians and maintain close working relationships with physicians.

NPs see patients of all ages. The core philosophy of a NPs medical care is individualized care. NPs focus on patients’ conditions as well as the effects of illness on the lives of the patients and their families. NPs make prevention, wellness, and patient education priorities. This can mean fewer prescriptions and less expensive treatments. Informing patients about their health care and encouraging them to participate in decisions are central to the care provided by NPs. In addition to health care services, NPs conduct research and are often active in patient advocacy activities.

A nurse practitioner’s duties include the following:

  • Collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed, including providing referrals
  • Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors, self-care skills and treatment options
  • Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses, infections and injuries
  • Diagnosing, treating, and monitoring chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure)
  • Obtaining medical histories and conducting physical examinations
  • Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays, EKGs)
  • Prescribing medications
  • Prescribing physical therapy and other rehabilitation treatments
  • Providing family planning services
  • Providing well-child care, including screening and immunizations
  • Health and wellness counseling

NPs provide high-quality, cost-effective individualized care that is comparable to the health care provided by physicians.