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Nurse Practitioner

Find a Nurse Practitioner in Chicago

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed a graduate degree in advanced practice nursing (APN).  This additional training expands their responsibilities as a practitioner and allows them to practice independently or in tandem with a physician. NPs practice in a broad range of settings including obstetrics/gynecology, primary care, family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, emergency, oncology, nephrology, cardiology and mental healthcare.  In these settings they offer a wide range of health care services which may include performing a physical exam, conducting a patient’s history, ordering laboratory tests, diagnosing, treating and managing acute and chronic illness, writing prescriptions, providing referrals, and encouraging healthy life choices in collaboration with the patient.  

There are two levels to which NPs may be regulated within the United States.  Nationally, there are specific guidelines put forth by a variety of organizations, which dictate the minimal national requirements for NP certification.  In contrast, practice licensure is governed on a state-by-state basis.  These specific state laws dictate the actual scope of practice of NPs, and may therefore change what they are allowed to do for their patients.  For example in some states NPs can write prescriptions whereas in other states they cannot.  Currently, these state laws concerning NP licensure are quite different.  In some states, NPs can practice completely independently whereas other states require an MD or DO to oversee their practice.  There are a few states which lack licensure or recognition of NPs altogether.

Some examples of organizations which offer national certification include the Board of Registered Nurses, the American Nurses’ Association, Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, and the American Nurse Credential Center.  The majority of these organizations require completion of a Master’s level NP program prior to sitting the certification exam.  Typically these exams are for a specialty area such as geriatrics or pediatrics.  When the exams have been completed and a practitioner has achieved certification, they can include a “C” behind or in front of their other credentials.

Author: Bronwyn Bacon, ND

Sources:

MHS Optimization and Population Health Support Center
www.tricare.osd.mil/mhsophsc/mhs_supportcenter/Glossary/Ng.htm

Medline Plus
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001934.htm


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