Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Nurse practitioners frequently specialize in family practice or primary care.

Nurse practitioners frequently specialize in family practice or primary care.  The ability to provide general care while performing referral management to other specialists is a natural fit for the ARNP. 

Nurse Practitioner generally diagnose and treat acute, episodic, or chronic illness, independently or as part of a healthcare team. The Nurse Practitioner Job Description encompasses what is known as advanced practice nursing.

A Nurse Practitioner is a Registered Nurse with advanced training in the diagnosing, treatment and management of diseases and injuries. They frequently work in rural hospitals and clinics but are also widespread in urban medical practices. The official title varies but is most commonly Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) or Nurse Practitioner (NP).

A typical nurse practitioner job description will include every setting in which nursing or medical care is delivered: traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists; and U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.

The NP or nurse practitioner is often considered to be a physician extender as they can manage patients who do not require complex medical management or specialized treatment. The nurse practitioner job description includes what is known as a holistic approach to treating patients.

Nurse Practitioners will look at issues such as social, economic and family dynamics as well as the disease or injury that might cause the patient to seek medical care. The majority of nurse practitioners work in family practice. There are a variety of specialty nurse practitioner areas that include psychiatry, OB/GYN, pain management, and pediatrics.

A fairly recent addition to the nurse practitioner job description is the hospital based nurse practitioner who specializes in intensive care or emergency medicine. This role is similar to but does differ from the clinical nurse specialist.

Working Environment

Nurse practitioners work in offices and clinics. The environment is indoors, well lit and generally comfortable. Working hours can be long with some week-end work and on call hours. A work week in excess of 40 hours is common. The shift to electronic documentation requires a significant amount of time spent on a computer. Eye strain and repetitive motion injuries are possible.

Education and Training

The following conditions must all be met in order to become a certified registered nurse practitioner:

  1. A current license as a registered nurse.
  2. Graduation with a master’s degree from an accredited advanced nurse practitioner program.
  3. Successfully pass the national certification exam
  4. Apply for licensure as an advanced practice nurse in the state you plan to practice in.

Licensing and Credentialing

All 50 states and U.S. Territories require licensure as an ARNP with graduation from an accredited educational program and successfully passing a certification exam in order to be licensed.

Important Points

ARNP's provide a useful holistic approach to medical treatment and diagnosis

ARNP's are in high demand as clinics and hospitals look for ways to compensate for a shortage of doctors

Earnings are higher than average for the ARNP vs. the Registered Nurse.

Some states require that ARNP's be supervised by medical doctors



Career Progression

Some potential for administrative advancement exists in larger hospitals or group practices. The role of the ARNP is not one that provides for advancement in the traditional sense. Opportunities to open a private practice or to go into consulting are available.

Resources for Nurse Practitioners Job Description:

Nurse Practitioners Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)


› Nurse Practitioner

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