What is the Difference Between a Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner

What is the Difference Between a Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner?

What is the difference between a nurse and a nurse practitioner?  A nurse practitioner (NP) has a more advanced degree than an RN or registered nurse and they have a broader spectrum of duties as part of their job.  Nurse practitioners are expected to provide additional health care services and typically will specialize in things like family medicine or gerontology.  The time it takes to become an RN will vary with the program that you take but becoming a nurse practitioner is going to take more education and a little bit longer, typically it could take around six years to achieve your credentials.  Here is some more information on becoming a nurse practitioner.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

In order to become a nurse practitioner you must have first attained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and be a licensed registered nurse.  You can become a registered nurse without achieving a Bachelor’s degree, you can also get both your degree and your license at the same time.  You might want to check with your state to see the requirements as they can vary from state to state.

Once you have your Bachelor’s degree you can then go on to earn your Master of Science in Nursing and then pass your state licensing exam.  It can take around two years to earn your Master’s degree and it will offer some hands on instruction.  It is at this time you will choose your specialty, whether you want to practice family or some other type of medicine.

What does a Nurse Practitioner do?

A nurse practitioner will often have duties that are outside the realm that normal nurses do.  Nurse practitioners can and will perform basic diagnostic tests, they can prescribe basic medications and help treat chronic illnesses that patients may suffer from.  In the past these were tasks that were only performed by a doctor.  In addition to these duties the nurse practitioner may also help patients with disease prevention, counseling on health issues and advocating on behalf of their patients.

The demand for nurse practitioners will increase dramatically over the next decade as the population increases. Baby boomers are going to be filling hospitals and senior care facilities and there aren’t enough nurses or nurse practitioners to handle the patient load.  If you are currently an RN you might want to look into upgrading your credentials and moving into the field of nurse practitioner.  It is a rewarding career.