Nurse Practitioner Job Description

A Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice Registered Nurse (RN), whose specialized education and training allows them to provide higher-level of health care services, similar to a physician. Like all RNs, the primary focus of a Nurse Practitioner is providing general care and treatment to patients by conducting tests, administering treatments and assisting physicians. As an advanced practice nurse, they also have the authority to consult, diagnose and prescribe medication. Nurse Practitioners generally have a specialization in a certain field, such as pediatrics, midwifery, and anesthesiology.

The job is generally conducted as part of a team under the leadership of a physician, but in some states Nurse Practitioners have the authority to practice independently. Nurse Practitioners are in high demand. The number of jobs in the U.S. is expected to increase 31 percent through 2024, a rate much faster than the national average, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Nurse Practitioner Duties and Responsibilities

To accomplish their primary goal of diagnosing, caring for and treating patients, Nurse Practitioners perform many tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Nurse Practitioner duties and responsibilities.

Prepare and Maintain Health Records

Nurse Practitioners record the health history of patients. They take patient histories, and prepare and maintain accurate patient records, charts and documents. They monitor and note patient progress and prepare patient workups.

Examine and Treat Patients

Nurse Practitioners carry out physical exams of patients, and provide treatments. They may also administer therapeutic procedures, such as the application and removal of casts, stitching wounds and changing dressings.

Collaborate with Physicians on Diagnosis and Patient Care

Based on their examination, and usually in consultation with the physician, Nurse Practitioners may diagnose patients. They also help the physician to decide on the appropriate treatment option. The Nurse Practitioner keeps the physician informed of patient status and progress, and makes treatment recommendations.

Write Prescriptions and Order for Medical Tests

A licensed Nurse Practitioner prescribes medications, usually in collaboration with a referring physician. They may also order and schedule diagnostics, laboratory studies or treatments.

Educate Patients and Families

It is the responsibility of the Nurse Practitioner to explain to patients and their families the nature of their illness and required treatments. They must educate patients on how to take prescribed medication and its side effects, and provide health counseling as required. In many cases, Nurse Practitioners act as an educator to workplaces, schools, and communities about various public health issues.


Nurse Practitioner Skills

A Nurse Practitioner has patience and compassion, but also the ability to work well under pressure and make quick, informed decisions. A problem solver and analytical thinker, they must be detail oriented and a strong communicator. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Nurse Practitioner candidates with the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Nurse Practitioners with these core skills. If you want to work as a Nurse Practitioner, focus on the following.

  • Active state nursing license, Nurse Practitioner certification by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and state certification for prescribing medication
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and skill in customer service and conflict resolution
  • Experience working in a collaborative team environment as well as working autonomously with minimal supervision
  • Ability to sit, stand, kneel and do heavy lifting
  • Ability to work under stressful conditions
  • Demonstrated knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications
  • Previous health care experience
  • American Heart Association basic life support (BLS) or an American Red Cross CPR certification

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Nurse Practitioner toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Nurse Practitioner experience in a specialty area
  • Drivers License and vehicle
  • Ability to work flexible hours
  • Knowledge of Medicare, Medicaid and other payers reimbursement and coding for all levels of service


Nurse Practitioner Q & A

Are you considering a career as a Nurse Practitioner? We talked Nancy Brook, a Nurse Practitioner and faculty member at Stanford Healthcare, to get an inside look at what the profession is all about. Here’s what she shared with us.

What’s the most rewarding part about being a Nurse Practitioner?

It’s being able to provide care for those who need it most. Patients are scared, anxious and don’t feel well. Being able to work up their issues, order the appropriate tests, make a diagnosis and offer treatment is very gratifying. While many of us work independently, I currently work as part of an amazing team of surgeons and it is a wonderful opportunity to take care of complex patients with cancer.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to work with patients over time, and to develop long-term relationships with them and their families. It is very rewarding to know that you played a role in their journey to overcome a serious condition. The work is exciting in that it is always changing.

What is the biggest challenge faced by Nurse Practitioners?

It can be hard to face end-of-life issues with patients. It is common to become close to your patients and losses can be difficult. Also, healthcare systems are busy; there can be an abundance of paperwork and documentation to complete.

What skills do you use every day?

Skills I use everyday include listening, offering compassion, counseling and teaching – being able to meet patients at whatever stage of life they are at.


Nurse Practitioner Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Nurse Practitioner. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.

On the Web

The NP Education Blog – Provides content focused on Nurse Practitioner students, with resource guides and professional profiles. – A social Media site for nurses and nursing students to discuss nursing schools and careers.

NPs in the News – Read up on the latest news related to Nurse Practitioners.

On LinkedIn

Advanced Practice: Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, CRNA, Midwife – A community of over 38,000 Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists and other professionals that serve these practitioners.

Nurse Practitioner – A networking forum for the Nurse Practitioner community, with over 19,000 members.

Industry Groups

American Association of Nurse Practitioners – AANP is the largest full-service national professional membership organization for Nurse Practitioners of all specialties.

ICN Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nursing Network – A great resource for Nurse Practitioners with loads of information on development, research, policy and global events.

National Association of pediatric Nurse Practitioners – Learn about the Pediatric Health specialty, and connect with Nurse Practitioners in that field.

Nurse Practitioner Books

Nurse Practitioner Certification Examination And Practice Preparation by Margaret Fitzgerald – Study and prepare for the Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam.

NP Notes: Nurse Practitioner’s Clinical Pocket Guide by Ruth McCaffrey and Ellis Quinn Youngkin – An excellent reference guide with all of the essential things a Nurse Practitioner must know.

The Nurse Practitioner’s Bag: A guide to creating a meaningful career that makes a difference by Nancy Brook – Practical advice and inspirational stories for anyone who wants to know it is like to be a Nurse Practitioner.


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