The Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who have received special courses and training. They usually work closely with doctors and can perform many high-level primary care tasks. They often specialize in specific types of practice such as pediatrics, psychiatry, or obstetrics. Some establish private practices; however, most work in doctors' offices, hospitals, or neighborhood health centers. Their duties often include taking detailed medical histories and performing complete physical exams, providing diagnoses and recommending treatment plans, treating common medical conditions, illnesses, and injuries, prescribing limited medications, and counseling patients and families. They also care for patients with chronic diseases, order and interpret lab tests and x-rays as needed, and provide health maintenance, health education and prevention for children and adults, and provide prenatal care and family planning.
Nurse practitioners work in rural and urban settings, such as public health departments, community health centers, hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing homes, HMOs, student health clinics, and home health agencies. Where state law permits, nurse practitioners may establish their own offices for independent practice. Work hours for these professionals often exceed the usual eight-hour day as they are the primary provider of patient care and may be required to be on call to manage patient problems. To become a nurse practitioner or NP, individuals must first earn their registered nurse or RN credentials. The two main paths to becoming a registered nurse are earning an associate's degree in nursing or ADN or a bachelor of science in nursing or BSN. Graduates of either of these degree programs must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs or NCLEX-RN to earn a state license to practice as a RN.
Although the ADN offers a faster path to becoming an RN, individuals considering...
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