Academic & Career Information
NATURE OF THE WORK, EARNINGS, AND OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK
Nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), provide primary and specialty health care under the supervision of a physician, but the physician does not need to be present. The scope of practice varies from state to state and by specialty, but common duties include conducting physicals, making diagnoses, treatments and consultations with patients, ordering tests and prescribing medications, with more specific duties being similar to those of physicians working in the same specialty.
Following are the duties and responsibilities for five APRN specialties:
- 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 often 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 Practitioners provide 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 Practitioners diagnose and consult on the treatment regimen of cancer patients, and may advise patients 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 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.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for nurse practitioners will be much faster than average at 34% from 2012 to 2022. In 2013 the national median salary was $92,670. According to California Labor Market Information (LMI), in 2014 entry level pay was $7,849, average pay was $9,324, and top pay was $10,741 and higher.
NURSE PRACITIONER PREPARATION
Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have completed additional training in an approved program. Nurse Practitioner programs are commonly two to three years in length. Programs may grant a master’s degree or a certificate, and generally require a Bachelor’s degree and state licensure as an RN, though some programs admit nursing students and provide both types of training simultaneously.
A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing is required for admission to most nurse practitioner programs. Coursework includes all or most of the following: anatomy and physiology, basic nutrition, chemistry, emergency medical care, psychology for nurses, geriatric care, maternal-child care and nursing science.
Because enrollment is limited, admissions is highly competitive. It is common for students to apply for admission to both the college and to its school of nursing. Admission requirements may require an interview, aptitude test, and a strong academic background.
Equivalency for Nursing schools will be updated soon.