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Nurse Practitioner

What they do:

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses who provide care to patients from premature babies to the elderly.

NPs can:

  • Perform comprehensive and focused physical examinations

  • Diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries

  • Provide immunizations

  • Manage illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and other chronic health problems

  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests such as X-rays and EKGs, as well as laboratory tests

  • Prescribe medication and therapies

  • Perform various medical procedures

  • Educate patients and their families on healthy lifestyles and health care options

NPs can prescribe medications, including controlled substances, in all 50 states. In 26 states, NPs have authority to practice independently.


  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN)

  • Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) or Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses

  • Additional certification to use the APRN title and board certification for your specialty

To be recognized as expert health care providers and ensure the highest quality of care, NPs undergo rigorous national certification, periodic peer review, clinical outcome evaluations, and adhere to a code for ethical practices. Self-directed continued learning and professional development is also essential to maintaining clinical competency.

What they make:

In 2015, nurse practitioners made a median salary of $98,190. The highest-paid 10% earned $135,830 and the lowest-paid 10% earned $70,540.

Where they work:

  • Clinics

  • Office practices

  • Managed care organizations and hospitals

  • Urban community health centers

  • College campuses

  • Worksite employee health centers

  • Healthcare technology companies, such as pharmaceutical manufacturers

NPs can also perform health care research, teach in schools and universities and serve in governmental agencies (i.e., health departments, the military).

Depending on where they work, NPs may have a typical work week or they may have a schedule that includes weekends, holidays, and/or being available on call after hours.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2024, the field will grow by 35%, opening up 44,700 new positions. This growth rate is five times the national average for all occupations, making job security for nurse practitioners very good.



Updated February 2017