What does a Nurse Practitioner do?

  1. I was thinking of becoming a NP, but I'm not too sure on what they exactly do. I've searched the internet and the basic thing i got from people is that they are like doctors. It wasn't that helpful, and I was hoping someone here can help me.
  2. Visit sergel02 profile page

    About sergel02

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 142; Likes: 55


  3. by   zenman
    "A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with advanced academic and clinical experience in diagnosing and managing most common acute and chronic illnesses either independently or in collaboration with a physician."
  4. by   dbb37128
    In order to be a nurse practitioner, first you must go to nursing school to become a registered nurse. A bachelor's degree in nursing is required for you to go to graduate school where you learn how to be a nurse practitioner (NP). Some schools do offer bridge programs where you can have an associates degree in nursing and bridge to a master's degree in nursing. There are many specialties within NP programs, and you will need to choose one. They include adult health, family practice, psychiatric, pediatrics, women's health, forensic, palliative (hospice), and acute care practitioner.NPs see patients just like doctor's do. They perform physical examinations, take medical histories, prescribe medications, order tests, perform minor procedures, such as suturing, removing small lesions, incision and drainage of a wound, etc. They also counsel and teach patients about their health and how to improve it. Prevention and wellness is an important part of a NP's practice. They also can admit patients to the hospital if they are seriously ill. Some NPs have hospital priviledges and others do not. Nursing is a great career choice if you have compassion and a heart to help people. I wish you good luck.
  5. by   sergel02
    Thanks for all the help. What is the work environment like for a NP? like do they work in a hospital, or can they work for say a company like Kaiser?
  6. by   dbb37128

    NPs can work in many different settings. Some work in hospitals as a hospitalist, which means they see patients who are admitted to the hospital and care for them while they are there. They write orders for their care and see them every day. Other NPs work in clinics or urgent care settings. Some work in the emergency room at the hospital. They also can work as acute care NPs in the intensive care units with the most seriously ill patients. There are NPs who own their own practices and work independently with a collaborating physician, but the physician is not necessarily at the practice while they are working. Others work in psych hospitals with mental health patients, or with long-term care patients in a nursing home. There are also opportunities for NPs to work in a different cultural setting, such as the Indian Health Services in Arizona or with Eskimos in Alaska. The possibilities are endless, and there are programs that help you pay back your school loans if you agree to work in an underserved area of the U.S. Hope this helps :-)
  7. by   sergel02
    Thanks for everything. It really confirms that i want to be an NP. I asked this question earlier, but the responses were more along the lines of trying to stop me from being a nurse. I think a family care Np is what would suit me the best. Where do they work?
  8. by   nomadcrna
    FNPs can work in almost any area. You can find them in ER, urgent care, primary care offices, orthopediacs, cardiology and even in surgery, especially with the ortho guys.
    They can work as a hospitalist or even intensivist role.
    They see all ages and types of patients.
  9. by   dbb37128

    If you have never worked in health care, let me offer a suggestion. I always encourage people who have not cared for patients to try working in the field before committing to a career choice. You will realize very quickly whether this is the choice for you or not. A certified nursing assistant trains for around 6 weeks and takes an exam to become certified. Many places offer free training if you agree to work for them for a period of time. Cost to you would be minimal, and you would be paid more than minimum wage. I have seen too many young nurses go through school, graduate, and then discover that they hate nursing. It is better to realize this before you invest all of your time and money. Hope this helps :-)
  10. by   Annaiya
    OP, you don't say how old you are but based on your questions and tone of your posts you sound like you might be a high school student considering career options? If that is the case then volunteering at a hospital or becoming a CNA might be a good option to get you some more exposure to some areas of nursing. However, I don't think this is necessarily the right way for everyone to learn about nursing. I love nursing, but never worked as a CNA or student tech, because I would have hated it. Reading these forums can be a really good source of information regarding what sorts of issues nurses face on a daily basis. An FNP will general work in a clinic seeing patients, not in a hospital. And if you practice in TX, a FNP cannot work in a hospital, because it is considered outside their scope of practice.

    Nursing school is difficult and NP school is even harder. I would focus on getting your BSN (bachelor's of science in nursing) first, and by the time you're done with that you will know if you want to be an NP or not. Good luck to you!
  11. by   nomadcrna
    Remember, each state has its own laws. Thankfully, not many are like Texas. I hope states shy away from locking NP into one certain practice pattern.
    Most states let you practice according to what you can show you are trained for. So an FNP can pretty much do "almost" anything.
    Here in Alaska, I have full admit privileges as well as work the ER as solo provider. It was the same in Montana. Many, many rural hospitals use FNPs to cover their ERs.
  12. by   Heidi the nurse
    I am going to bump this thread up and piggy back on the OP's questions. I have been an RN for 20 years now (BSN) and currently work as a school nurse. I am thinking of going off in another direction and am trying to decide if I want to become a FNP or go in a completely different direction (into special education teaching visually impaired children). Took my daughter to the doctor today and saw on the NP's there. I am not sure that is the kind of nursing I want to do. I am not one that likes to rush - I would probably end up spending way too much time with each patient and be completely behind as the day progresses. But I like the idea of primary care. Are there any "unconventional" locations where NP's practice? To me, school nursing is "unconventional" - when most people think of a nurse they think of them in the hospital or clinic. I am a country girl living in the city right now, but can see myself making house calls in the mountains of Montana or something along that line. Any words of wisdom from those of you who know a bit more about the different areas NP's practice?
    Last edit by Heidi the nurse on Apr 17, '11 : Reason: change to make sense
  13. by   NPinWCH
    I work in family practice and yes, I am busy, but since I'm new I'm still slowish, but my office allows me to decide how much time I spend with each patient. Of course, part of my compensation, above and beyond my salary, is a productivity bonus which means that the organization offers me incentive to see more patients. I don't have to, I could schedule my appointments for as much as 30min if I wanted to, but that isn't practical for every patient.

    The office also offers house calls. We don't do many, but the option to do them if you want exists. Right now, they aren't on my list of things to do since I'm new, but eventually they could be. Most docs/NPs limit them since they reduce your productivity.

    My point is really that you can do so many things with the degree. You aren't really limited to office work if you don't want to be, but you may need to start someplace, get experience and then move on to something you'd prefer to do.

    Good luck
  14. by   Heidi the nurse
    That makes sense - hadn't though of it like that. I keep thinking of an appointment I had with my MD a couple years ago (usually I see a PA, but the MD was in the office that day) I am a large women and every year my weight had been going up 10 or 15#. I made an off the cuff remark about that, and what I should do. He told me a busy Sunday afternoon was not the time to talk about weight loss. Ok, I thought (my doctor's office has a walk in clinic that is open every day, and I was in for a blood pressure med refill). But I am not a little over weight, I am well into the morbidly obese catagory. I understand being busy, but just wouldn't ever want to put my patient in that spot. I know how to lose weight, but I doubt he knew I was a nurse, so it just bothers me that I got that response when we know obesity is such a problem health wise.