A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced academic and clinical experience, or an Advanced Practice Nurse. The nurse practitioner is able to diagnose and manage most common illnesses, either independently or as part of a health care team. Working in collaboration with a physician, a nurse practitioner provides high quality, cost effective, and individualized care. They are able to prescribe medications, and provide some care previously offered only by physicians. In some settings, often rural or inner-city locations, the nurse practitioner may be the primary care provider, collaborating with the supervising physician as needed. With a strong emphasis on primary care, nurse practitioners are employed within several specialties including neonatology, nurse-midwifery, pediatrics, school health, family and adult health, psychiatric/mental health, geriatrics, and acute care.
- Health care clinics
- Physician offices
- Outpatient care centers
- Managed care organizations
- Employee health centers
- Healthcare technology companies
- Nursing schools and universities
- Governmental agencies
- Research entities – public and private
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories
The work schedule, required duties, and work environment will vary among the different practice types and patient populations.
Employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow as the demand for healthcare services increase, and the numbers of primary care physicians decrease. Employment opportunities will be varied and prospects are expected to be excellent, but may depend on geographic location and employment setting.
- Ability to learn biological sciences and practices of nursing
- Good math skills and strong verbal abilities for reading, writing and speaking
- Good space and form perception, general coordination, and manual dexterity
- Ability to handle a variety of activities, make decisions based on data and observations
- Creativity, flexibility, ability to work under stress, and willingness to make decisions
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
Nurse practitioners are educated through programs that grant either a certificate, a master’s degree, or a doctorate degree. A registered nurse should have extensive clinical experience before applying to a nurse practitioner program. An intensive preceptorship under the supervision of a physician or an experienced nurse practitioner, as well as instruction in nursing theory, are key components in most programs.
An applicant for a license to practice as a nurse practitioner must be a registered nurse, complete an approved advanced registered nurse practitioner program at the master’s level or above, and pass a national certifying exam.
Programs in Nebraska
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Other careers involving primary care and advanced practice or advanced degree preparation:
- Nurse anesthetist
- Physician assistant
- Occupational therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Primary Care Physician