Besides education & pay, difference between a NP & RN?

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    I am still unsure of the exact differences between an RN and an NP. I understand that an NP can teach, since they have their master's degree, but after doing some research online, their duties seem similar to an RN's.
    The part about being an NP that I dread is doing minor surgeries. I read online that an NP is able to do this, but I just don't think that I would be able to handle it. Is doing minor surgeries a big part of the job? Is there any way to get around this? I want to be either a PNP or an FNP. I would also like to teach, so that's why I want to pursue the NP route. I am just curious to know the real differences between an RN and an NP though, since they seem like similar jobs. I know that an NP is an advanced level of an RN, but just don't understand where the "advanced" part comes into effect.


    Thank you
    Last edit by xInspiredx on Jun 24, '11
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  4. 1
    the biggest difference between an RN and NP is that as an NP, you have more autonomy and are able to diagnose and treat patients for a variety of conditions, depending on your scope of practice. For example, if you are sick and go to a clinic to be seen, you can be treated by a NP. As a RN you are still caring for the patient, but you get orders for the medications and treatments from the M.D., PA, DO, NP depending on where you work. If you are sick and go to a clinic, the RN may be the one to talk your vitals and get initial information on what is going on but than you are seen by the health care provider for evaluation and treatment. The role of the RN and NP is various depending on where you work. Many RNs work in the hospital setting on various floors, such as neuro, med/surg, pediatrics etc and provide bedside care- passing meds, monitoring, IVs, etc.


    I'm not sure what you constitute as "minor" surgery, but as someone in the FNP program and hoping to work in the outpatient setting, I don't expect to do much "surgically" besides maybe stitches/taking them out, which is the only type of "surgery" I have learned in my program thus far. If you specialize, such as an Orthopedic NP, you can get certified as a first assist in surgeries etc. It all depends on where you want to work and do.

    Basically NPs are "advance nurses" because you are in charge of managing and treating acute and chronic conditions. My FNP program is focused on obtaining a thorough history, performing an accurate physical exam, assessing what I think is going on/the diagnosis and the plan in how to care for the patient. If you go the PNP route, you would only be able to care for kids; if you go the family route you can treat across the life span.

    As far as teaching, many schools are transitioning to only allowing NPs to teach who either have or are in the middle of obtaining a Doctorate degree. There is speculation that by 2015 it will be required that all NP students will have to get their doctorate degree in order to practice and those who already have their masters at this point may be grandfathered in. It is unknown what will really happen, but something to know if you pursue an advanced degree-that by the time you do, it may very well be required to get the doctorate as well.

    I hope this helps!
    xInspiredx likes this.
  5. 6
    As an RN I assessed the patient and documented my findings so that the medical provider (MD or NP) could follow up with their orders for treatment and medications. I would also give these medications or treatments and then monitor the patient's response which I would then communicate to the provider. I also provided education to the patient/family so they could better care for themselves.

    As an NP I assess my patient and document my findings, then I diagnose the medical problems and order tests, treatments, medicaitons and/or referrals. I then follow up with the patient to make sure that the treatment is working. I am the one who comes up with the diagnosis, treatment, medications. I am the one who orders the tests and interrprets the results.

    I have much greater autonomy. As an RN I can say to the doc/NP and say, "Hey, Mr. Jone's BP is low and he's tachycardic. He's been vomiting off and on for the past few days. Would you like to order any tests or start an IV?"

    As the NP I say: "I see Mr. Jone's BP is low and he's tachycardic. He's also been vomiting. I think we need to check a CBC, BMP and get an IV started. NS bolus 500 and then 200/hr. How about we give him a dose of Zofran and see if that helps him feel better too. Be sure to hold his metoprolol and do a stat one touch. If his blood sugar is low let me know and we'll add some dextrose to the IV."

    It's a totally different point of view.

    As for surgery, well you don't HAVE to do any of it, but I do place sutures, do shave and punch biopsies, do cryotherapy, I&Ds and maybe a few more small procedures. I haven't done joint injections yet, but it's on my list to learn. How much you do procedure wise is up to you, though some places may ask that you do them while others won't.
    ktom805, StaRNew, lizv, and 3 others like this.
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    anny08 & NPinWCH, thank you soooooooo much for those replies!!! They are very helpful!



    In regards to where an NP works, are the jobs generally at clinics? I see more postings for clinics than in hospitals. Are hospital jobs rare for NP's?
  7. 1
    Really depends on geography. Some areas have loads of NPs doing inpatient care and it's routine - other areas of the country they think you're crazy if you talk about an NP working with the hospitalist group or in the ED.

    The beautiful thing about nurse practition-ing is that there can be about as much (or as little) variety as you want.
    xInspiredx likes this.
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    ^Thanks for your reply!

    Quote from mammac5
    Really depends on geography. Some areas have loads of NPs doing inpatient care and it's routine - other areas of the country they think you're crazy if you talk about an NP working with the hospitalist group or in the ED.
    So would the latter refer to congested states (e.g. California, New York)?


    **


    If I were to pursue the FNP way, would it be possible to work at just a pediatrics clinic? An FNP is trained to cover the whole life spectrum, so could it be possible to focus on just that one area? I would assume that an FNP wouldn't get as much of an extensive training as PNP's, but I ask due to the fact that there are so few PNP's program out there. The majority of Masters programs (in CA-where I ultimately want a job) are to obtain an FNP position.
  9. 1
    if you wan to teach, be a nurse educator. You don't have to be a NP to do that.
    xInspiredx likes this.
  10. 1
    Nurse Practitioners Assess, collect data, ORDER diagnostics, INTERPRET diagnostic results, DIAGNOSES, and prescribes medical therapies.
    xInspiredx likes this.
  11. 0
    ^Thanks for the replies everyone!


    Quote from sourapril
    if you wan to teach, be a nurse educator. You don't have to be a NP to do that.

    Well I still want the option to work in various settings, and not just teach. I want to teach "on the side" so to speak.


    *


    Could someone please answer this for me:

    If I were to pursue the FNP way, would it be possible to work at just a pediatrics clinic? An FNP is trained to cover the whole life spectrum, so could it be possible to focus on just that one area? I would assume that an FNP wouldn't get as much of an extensive training as PNP's, but I ask due to the fact that there are so few PNP's program out there. The majority of Masters programs (in CA-where I ultimately want a job) are to obtain an FNP position.
  12. 0
    yes, you can be a FNP and work only with kids.


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