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Nurse Practitioner Jobs - How To Become A Nurse Practitioner

Updated on May 22, 2012

This is a career that is suitable for both males and females. There is an ongoing need for nurse practitioners, who are often able to provide their patients with more attention than their regular doctors find possible. The only major differences between doctors and nurse practitioners is that nurse practitioners do not perform surgeries, and in a very few states they do not prescribe medications.

Nurse practitioners

Job Summary

Nurse practitioners meet with their patients, review medical histories, and discuss the patient's problems. They examine the patient, order any tests that are needed, and interpret the results of the tests. They routinely diagnose medical conditions and diseases. They discuss the patient's options, and may suggest alternative therapies. Nurse practitioners are able to treat virtually all common conditions and diseases, but will refer the patient to a specialist if they feel it advisable, as would any doctor. Nurse practitioners perform routine medical check-ups, as well as preventative tests. They evaluate patient's risk for disease and advise them on general health issues.

Nurse practitioners usually work completely independently. They open their own offices and run their own businesses. Nurse practitioners help fill a gap between the number of general practitioners available, and the number needed. In large urban areas practitioners work in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, in the military, and in private practice. Nurse practitioners in urban locations have recourse to a nearby supervising medical physician. In small towns and rural areas, it is not unusual to find nurse practitioners are the only available form of medical care available. Nurse practitioners will however always keep in touch with a supervisory physician. More and more nurse practitioners are now choosing an area of specialization, such as pediatrics,neonatal care, family practice, cardiology, and oncology.

Education And Other Requirements

Nurse practitioners must be compassionate, detail oriented, observant, and have excellent communication skills. They must be prepared to continue learning, throughout their lives, to keep abreast of the latest information about medical conditions, and their treatments. They must be committed, and non-judgmental, as they will need to deal with a wide variety of individuals of all ages, and ethnic backgrounds. Above all, nurse practitioners must enjoy helping others, be extremely knowledgeable, and be able to work calmly and efficiently in stressful situations. It is important that nurse practitioners are physically fit, and able to withstand the strain of working long hours in a demanding profession.

While still in high school, anyone interested in a career as a nurse practitioner should take courses in English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, computers, and a second language. They should also get some experience in a medical facility such as a nursing home or hospital. To understand exactly what the life of a nurse practitioner consists of, they should arrange through their school councilor to 'shadow' a professional nurse practitioner.

A first aid course and a course in CPR, would be an asset.

After obtaining a high school diploma, it is necessary to become a registered nurse, and then get at least two years of practical experience in the medical field.

The next step is to get a master's degree, where you will get a chance to take courses in the specialization of your choice. This usually takes two years.

When the master's degree is completed, the it is necessary to become nationally certified. To become certified, candidates must take and pass a national exam. Certification is proof that you have the skill and knowledge to start your career as a nurse practitioner.

Requirements for nurse practitioners may vary slightly from state to state, so make sure to investigate thoroughly so you understand all regulations regarding educational requirements, licensing, and certification.


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    • billips profile image

      billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article and for your kind comments Kashmir - it is greatly appreciated.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi billips, all great information within this well written hub that can help anyone who is thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner. This can be a very rewarding career but also a very stressful one as well,well done !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • billips profile image

      billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

      I agree with you teaches12345 - doing any type of job, that deals with people's, needs well, is as much about the personality of the professional, as it is about their education - thanks for reading and commenting - regards, B.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is a career that is worth pursuing for those with the credential you mentioned in your hub. It does take a special, caring person to follow this program to the end. Thanks for sharing the information.