Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have advanced their education to a master's level, as well as completed training in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Created by state medical boards to free up physicians, they provide a wide variety of health care services, even providing the same care and performing the same duties as physicians, such as diagnosing and treating common illnesses, conducting physical examinations, and prescribing medicine. Nurse Practitioners also provide health counseling and educate their patients about health and treatment options. They are closely involved with physicians, working specifically under a medical doctor, although they tend to work independently on a regular basis and can serve as a patient's regular health care provider.
For Registered Nurses, the benefits of completing some extra education to become a Nurse Practitioner are many. First, you can expect a pay raise. According to Salary.com, Registered Nurses earn from $56,000 to $68,000 annually. Depending on experience, setting, and specialty Nurse Practitioners can earn from $72,000 to $100,000 a year. Second, you will be able to advance your career. Nurse Practitioners are able to work more independently than Registered Nurses and have the opportunity to provide comprehensive patient care for the long term. If you are the type of person who likes to see how you can influence a person's life in the long run and not just one office visit, advancing to a Nurse Practitioner may be worth it. Third, you can specialize. As a Nurse Practitioner, along with family practice, you will still be able to specialize in areas such as neonatal, pediatrics, and geriatrics, allowing you to work in your area of interest at a higher level.
If you want to begin your career as a Nurse Practitioner, you must first complete the right education and training to become a Registered Nurse. In most states, you will be required to continue your education on a master's level through a state-approved advanced training program. These programs typically specialize in the areas of family practice, women's health, and internal medicine. Commonly, several years of nursing experience as a Registered Nurse are required before one is accepted into a Nurse Practitioner program at a university or hospital. After completing your education, you must be licensed by the state you want to work in, each of which has its own licensing and certification criteria that typically include completion of a nursing program along with clinical experience.