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About NPs
Section Editor Alex Smithing

Why Choose a Nurse Practitioner?

  • Nurse Practitioners provide patients with the information they need to make decisions about their own health.
  • NPs take the time to listen to patients' concerns, health and otherwise.
  • NPs concentrate on preventative health care.
  • NPs provide individualized, holistic (all encompassing) care.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced training in diagnosing and treating illness. Nurse Practitioners prescribe medications, treat illness, and administer physical exams. NPs differ from physicians in that they focus on prevention, wellness, and education. NPs specialize in providing all encompassing individualized care. Most NPs specialize in particular areas of health care. Many NPs work in primary & acute care settings including:
  • Adult Health
  • Family Health
  • Pediatric Health
  • Neonatal Care
  • School/College Health
  • Geriatric Health
  • Women's Health/ Midwifery
  • Psychiatric/ Mental Health

What Services Do NPs Provide?

  • Obtain medical histories and perform physical examinations
  • Provide immunizations and other preventative child care
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Identify, treat, and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests such as x-rays, blood work, and EKG's
  • Prescribe medications
  • Prescribe physical therapy, massage therapy, and other rehabilitation therapy
  • Provide education to allow patients to make decisions about their own health
  • Perform procedures such as suturing, casting, cryotherapy, and skin biopsy
  • Refer to other health care providers

Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work?

Since their inception in the 1960's, Nurse Practitioners have been overcoming barriers to health care. They specialize in providing health care to under-served populations. This allows NPs to practice in a variety of settings both urban and rural including:
  • Private Offices
  • Walk-in clinics
  • Community Clinics
  • Health Departments
  • School/College Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Home Health Care Agencies
  • Nursing Homes
  • Health Maintenance Organizations

NP FAQs or How to Become A Nurse Practitioner

Links to other sites with Nurse Practitioner definitions:


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Updated April 29, 2004