Nurse Practitioner Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Nurse Practitioner, or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, is responsible for handling patient appointments and performing routine examinations to ensure patient health. Their duties include speaking with their patients about healthy lifestyle choices for their age, completing diagnostic tests to help diagnose and treat patients for injuries or illnesses and coordinating with other healthcare professionals to maintain updated medical records.

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Nurse Practitioner duties and responsibilities

 A Nurse Practitioner’s duties and responsibilities vary depending on their specialization. For example, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner has training in behavioral health and case management, whereas an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner focuses on short-term treatment. Regardless of the specialization, Nurse Practitioners have a few general responsibilities, including:

  • Providing primary care to patients
  • Performing initial examinations, including physical exams and patient observations
  • Setting up and monitoring medical equipment
  • Ordering and administering diagnostic tests
  • Communicating test results to patients and their families
  • Recording patient medical histories
  • Operating and maintaining medical equipment
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What does a Nurse Practitioner do?

Nurse Practitioners typically work for various healthcare settings, including healthcare clinics, hospitals or private practices and have the opportunity to specialize in areas like women’s health, family health, pediatric health and more. They work closely with Registered Nurses (RNs), Physicians and administrative staff to maintain daily operations within a healthcare facility. Their job is to prescribe medications, administer vaccines and refer patients to other healthcare professionals based on their needs. They may also be responsible for completing medical research in addition to their patient responsibilities.

Nurse Practitioner skills and qualifications

Nurse Practitioners undergo years of training to develop the technical skills needed to thrive in this role. Successful Nurse Practitioners must also develop a range of soft skills before they enter the workforce, including: 

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • Organization skills
  • Time management skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Empathy and compassion
  • The ability to work under pressure and for long hours
  • The ability to provide accurate, effective care in stressful situations

Nurse Practitioner salary expectations

A Nurse Practitioner makes an average of $116,173 per year. Salary may depend on factors such as the job’s location and the candidate’s experience level and education. 

Nurse Practitioner education and training requirements

Nurse Practitioners must obtain a Master of Science in Nursing. However, some jobs may require a doctorate in nursing practice. After completing their degrees, Nurse Practitioners must obtain a license to practice in their state. This licensure requires a master’s degree, a valid state Registered Nurse license and the completion of a national certification examination.

Nurse Practitioner experience requirements

Nurse Practitioners can find work after completing their master’s degree and obtaining their license. However, even Nurse Practitioners starting at their first job will have gained extensive nursing experience and training while completing their degree.

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Frequently asked questions about Nurse Practitioners

 

What is the difference between a Nurse Practitioner and a Registered Nurse?

Both Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses use their expertise to educate patients on health choices and administer medical treatment. However, they differ in their education requirements, level of seniority and scope of job responsibilities. For example, Registered Nurses need to achieve either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing, then take the national licensing examination to become a Registered Nurse. 

Similarly, Nurse Practitioners need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing and take the national licensing examination to become a Registered Nurse. However, to become a Nurse Practitioner, candidates need to complete a few years of experience as an RN while achieving a master’s degree in nursing. Some Nurse Practitioners may complete a Doctorate of Nursing Practice to advance their qualifications further. Because of their differences in education, only Nurse Practitioners have the authority to diagnose patient ailments and prescribe medications.

 

What are the daily duties of a Nurse Practitioner?

On a typical day, a Nurse Practitioner starts by checking in with their facility’s administrative staff to review their appointment schedule and any cancellations. Throughout the day, they greet patients, conduct routine physical examinations, take blood samples or administer vaccinations. During each appointment, they ask patients if they have any health concerns and update their patient records as needed. They also order prescription refills for patients.

 

What qualities make a good Nurse Practitioner?

A good Nurse Practitioner has compassion for others, which drives their motivation to help diagnose and treat their patients. They value continued education and look for ways to increase their knowledge of healthy living practices or health conditions to assist their patients better. Further, a good Nurse Practitioner has an investigative mindset and excellent attention to detail. These qualities allow them to evaluate their patients and perform diagnostic tests to determine a proper diagnosis. It also means that patients can start receiving the treatment they need to lead healthy lives. 

A good Nurse Practitioner also has a personable nature that helps patients feel comfortable speaking with them about their health concerns.

 

Who does a Nurse Practitioner report to?

Nurse Practitioners have varying levels of authority, depending on which states they work in. For example, Nurse Practitioners in states like California, Florida or Ohio typically refer to Physicians to confirm diagnoses or prescription orders. In contrast, Nurse Practitioners can have full authority when working in states like Maryland, Colorado or Montana. In this situation, Nurse Practitioners usually report to the state’s medical board or a Healthcare Facility Director. 

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