What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

what does a nurse practitioner do
For students interested in learning how to become a nurse practitioner, understanding the duties for which these health care professionals are responsible can offer a clearer picture of the challenges and rewards available in this field. If you decide this is the right career for you, pursuing a nurse practitioner program is an essential step in order to qualify for a position in this field.

What is a Nurse Practitioner? 

A nurse practitioner is a part of a larger category of health care service providers known as advanced practice registered nurses and work with others in hospitals, clinics, private practices, and research environments.  Becoming a nurse practitioner can be a lengthy process. A master's degree or doctorate in nursing is required for most nurse practitioner positions. Nurse practitioners must also be licensed to practice as a registered nurse in their states and must typically achieve certification from a national organization like the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Experience in the field of nursing is also required for licensure and certification in most areas.

Nurse Practitioner Career at a Glance 

Job Description A nurse practitioner is a licensed healthcare provider
Educational Requirements Master's or Doctorate Degree
Relevant Certifications State License
Average Salary $110,930
Expected Job Growth 31%

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner? 

Because the process to become a nurse practitioner varies from person to person, it can take from three to nine years to complete all educational and licensure requirements. Students wondering how to become a nurse practitioner after BSN completion can also access programs designed specifically to streamline the process. 

To  achieve success in this fast-paced field, nurse practitioners must: 

  • Stay current with new developments in the field of medicine and health care
  • Have superior communication skills to obtain information from patients and to record that data accurately
  • Display empathy and compassion, which are critical for professionals in all areas of the health care industry
  • Maintain attention to detail and strong analytical skills  

Because these medical professionals are often called upon to supervise or oversee others, leadership qualities are also necessary to ensure the best results for nurse practitioners in real-world situations. 

Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Nurse practitioners are in high demand in the job market thanks to their advanced training and a high degree of competence in a variety of medical environments. The job description nurse practitioner applicants can expect will change depending on the specialty field they elect to pursue. Some of the most important nurse practitioner job duties may include the following:

  • Recording patient histories
  • Ensuring medical records reflect symptoms, treatments, and administration of prescribed and over-the-counter medications
  • Performing intake duties to obtain information from patients and, in some cases, from families or guardians
  • Offering support for underserved/rural communities as primary caregivers who can:
    • Perform routine and detailed examinations    
    • Prescribe some medications  
  • Ordering diagnostic tests and operating some kinds of equipment in the medical environment
  • Evaluating test results to determine underlying physiological reasons for patient symptoms
  • Diagnosing medical conditions and devising treatment plans designed to alleviate pain and to stop the progress of diseases and conditions  
  • Supervising the activities of nurses and other staff in clinics and hospitals to ensure tasks are completed promptly and patients receive the best care possible
  • Educating patients and families about medical conditions and treatment plans
  • Collaborating with others in the health care field to share knowledge, create treatment regimens and diagnose patients with unusual or difficult sets of symptoms
  • Collecting and compiling information and samples from patients 
  • Performing scientific procedures using cell cultures and other biological materials
  • Specializing in a wide range of medical categories, including: 
    • pediatric care 
    • geriatrics
    • acute care nursing
    • family practice
    • emergency room nursing

Students typically select a specific patient population such as family, adult-gerontology or pediatrics.during their master's degree or doctorate programs. Training programs may also be available for registered nurses who have already completed a bachelor's of science in nursing degree program and who want to pursue licensure as a nurse practitioner in their state.

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for nurse practitioners in May 2017 was $110,930. The average salaries nurse practitioner professionals can command well over $125,000, making this one of the best-paying careers in the nursing industry. Compensation may also include health and life insurance, childcare benefits, tuition reimbursement, and flexible work schedules. In the hospital environment, nurse practitioners typically work long hours and may be required to perform their duties on call or in shifts that could cover nights, weekends and major holidays. Individuals who are employed by private practices and clinics generally work regular schedules on weekdays and sometimes on weekends; however, they are not usually asked to work on holidays or at other times when the facility is closed.

Nurse Practitioner Job Titles Average Annual Salary
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner $97,451
Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner $86,866
Emergency Nurse Practitioner $93,679
Family Nurse Practitioner $89,897
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner $86,512
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner $85,730


GMercyU, Your Pathway to Success

Students can start their educational journey toward licensure and practice in the nursing field at Gwynedd Mercy University. The programs and guidance available at this elite institution can provide real support for aspiring nurse practitioners in the modern educational environment. Contact our Admissions office today at 877-707-9064 or send an email to accelerate@gmercyu.edu to learn more about our nurse practitioner degree programs. We look forward to the chance to help you achieve your career goals.


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