The job of a Nurse Practitioner (NP) was conceived in the 60s to tackle the nationwide shortage of qualified physicians.
Though a nurse practitioner performs the same duties as a registered nurse, their primary responsibility is to supervise the nursing department and assist physicians or surgeons in performing complex medical procedures. They are qualified to diagnose a wide range of physical and mental conditions and suggest appropriate treatments to patients. In certain states, they are authorized to prescribe medication without consulting a physician.
Nursing in the United States is a state-regulated profession and hence services provided by NPs vary widely. Some states allow independent practice while in some, a joint agreement with a physician is a must for employment.
Today, a job of a nurse practitioner is one of the most stable and the most sought-after in the nursing profession. The annual package goes up to $88,000 and is usually decided considering the geographical location, educational background and experience. Apart from the impressive pay package, NPs are also entitled to life insurance, pension, paid leaves, and various other perks. The area in which a nurse practitioner specializes also plays an important role in determining the salary package. Specializations are offered in Pediatric, Acute, Neonatal, Adult, Family, Geriatric, and Occupational Health.
This table gives a clear picture on the average annual nurse practitioner salary according to geographic location.
|District of Columbia||$110,000|
The job description of a nurse practitioner may include,
- They head an entire nursing division of a medical establishment.
- They obtain patient's history and supervise medical tests.
- NPs study and understand test results, reports and prescribe necessary medication.
- They diagnose and assist in the treatment of various acute and chronic illnesses.
- In many medical facilities, NPs act as medical counselors.
- Experienced NPs can teach students and also take part in research projects.
Education and Board Certification
As the job is extremely diverse, most aspirants begin by obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), followed by a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). To be eligible for MSN, candidates have to clear the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The master's degree is not necessary for practice in every state, but in majority of them it is essential. Also, the two biggest certifying bodies American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) consider candidates with a master degree.