Skip to main content
A-Z IndexCalendarsDirectoryMaps

Background Image for Header:

Home / Academics / Careers / Nurse Practitioners Career

Nurse Practitioners Career

Career Description

Diagnose and treat acute, episodic, or chronic illness, independently or as part of a healthcare team. May focus on health promotion and disease prevention. May order, perform, or interpret diagnostic tests such as lab work and x rays. May prescribe medication. Must be registered nurses who have specialized graduate education.

What Job Titles Nurse Practitioners Might Have

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Gastroenterology Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

What Nurse Practitioners Do

  • Analyze and interpret patients' histories, symptoms, physical findings, or diagnostic information to develop appropriate diagnoses.
  • Diagnose or treat acute health care problems such as illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Recommend diagnostic or therapeutic interventions with attention to safety, cost, invasiveness, simplicity, acceptability, adherence, and efficacy.
  • Prescribe medications based on efficacy, safety, and cost as legally authorized.
  • Educate patients about self-management of acute or chronic illnesses, tailoring instructions to patients' individual circumstances.
  • Prescribe medication dosages, routes, and frequencies based on patient characteristics such as age and gender.
  • Order, perform, or interpret the results of diagnostic tests, such as complete blood counts (CBCs), electrocardiograms (EKGs), and radiographs (x-rays).
  • Maintain complete and detailed records of patients' health care plans and prognoses.
  • Recommend interventions to modify behavior associated with health risks.
  • Develop treatment plans based on scientific rationale, standards of care, and professional practice guidelines.
  • Detect and respond to adverse drug reactions, with special attention to vulnerable populations such as infants, children, pregnant and lactating women, or older adults.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in nursing.
  • Counsel patients about drug regimens and possible side effects or interactions with other substances such as food supplements, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, or herbal remedies.
  • Diagnose or treat chronic health care problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Provide patients with information needed to promote health, reduce risk factors, or prevent disease or disability.
  • Treat or refer patients for primary care conditions, such as headaches, hypertension, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, and dermatological conditions.
  • Consult with or refer patients to appropriate specialists when conditions exceed the scope of practice or expertise.
  • Diagnose or treat complex, unstable, comorbid, episodic, or emergency conditions in collaboration with other health care providers as necessary.
  • Schedule follow-up visits to monitor patients or evaluate health or illness care.
  • Perform routine or annual physical examinations.
  • Supervise or coordinate patient care or support staff activities.
  • Maintain current knowledge of state legal regulations for nurse practitioner practice including reimbursement of services.
  • Provide patients or caregivers with assistance in locating health care resources.
  • Maintain departmental policies and procedures in areas such as safety and infection control.
  • Perform primary care procedures such as suturing, splinting, administering immunizations, taking cultures, and debriding wounds.
  • Advocate for accessible health care that minimizes environmental health risks.
  • Keep abreast of regulatory processes and payer systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, managed care, and private sources.

What Nurse Practitioners Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

What Nurse Practitioners Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Nurse Practitioners Need to Learn

  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Philosophy and Theology - Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $100,910

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.