Nurse Practitioner Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities
Individuals who are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner must first earn a bachelor's degree and secure licensure as a registered nurse. After two years of practice, the registered nurse must then complete a master's program and pass a state-administered licensing examination.
A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse that helps with all aspects of patient care, including diagnosis, treatments and consultations. They may work in both inpatient and outpatient situations and can perform independently or as part of a treatment team. Generally, nurse practitioners perform the important task of educating patients about preventative care and prescribed treatments. They may also conduct physicals, order tests and serve as a patient's primary healthcare provider. Some nurse practitioners are also able to prescribe medications.
Duties and Responsibilities
Although there are common duties and responsibilities of all nurse practitioners, they generally vary by specialty. Specialties include primary care, pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology and psychiatric care.
Primary Care Nurse Practitioners
Primary care nurse practitioners are generalists who work in family health clinics or hospitals. They provide general and preventative care, conduct check-ups, treat illnesses, order lab tests and prescribe medication for children and adults.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Many pediatric nurse practitioners work in consultation with doctors in a children's ward. Some deal exclusively with neonates, while others concentrate on older children, up to age 18, in the pediatric ward. In some work situations, pediatric nurse practitioners maintain their own patients and make decisions about necessary treatment.
Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
Duties of a geriatric nurse practitioner include care, treatment and counseling for elderly patients and their families. Often, after assisting doctors in determining appropriate treatment, geriatric nurse practitioners are responsible for designing an exercise program for recovering patients.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
After diagnosis and consultation on the treatment regimen of cancer patients, the oncology nurse practitioner may advise the patient about possible participation in clinical trials. The follow-up, monitoring and recording of the process is one of the main responsibilities of the oncology nurse practitioner. Results of trial participation are entered into research conclusions and are often published.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Psychiatric nurse practitioners often hold a Ph.D. They may act as therapists and also prescribe appropriate medications. Although not authorized to conduct psychological testing, they regularly work closely with psychologists and psychiatrists in reviewing test results and determining a course of action.
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