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What Is An Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has either earned a master’s degree
or doctorate in nursing in which they obtain advanced clinical training to assess,
diagnose, and treat patients based on evidence-based medicine. NPs are advanced
practice health care providers and are sometimes referred as a mid-level provider, for which
some NPs consider an archaic term. NPs can write orders, prescriptions, order and interpret
labs, imaging and tests. NPs are licensed in the state(s) where they practice and
credentialed through a national nursing governing board.

The NP profession began in 1965 as a response to the shortage of primary care
providers, particularly for children, in urban and rural areas in the United States. Loretta
Ford, a nurse, and Henry Silver, MD created the first NP program at the University of
Colorado.
NP training is based on the nursing model which focuses on holistic patient care, patient
education, the socio-economic status of the patient, cultural considerations, and
understanding the limitations and barriers patients have to healthcare as opposed to
medical training which is more disease focused. NPs are trained to specialize in caring for a
certain demographic such as adults, children, women, geriatric or all. With few exceptions,
NPs can work in any specialty (e.g., dermatology, women’s health, mental health, midwifery,
family medicine, acute care, etc.). With the appropriate training, NPs can also perform
procedures and surgery.
NPs are allowed to practice without physician supervision in 21 states, including Arizona
and New Mexico, plus Washington D.C.. NPs can work in a variety of different healthcare
settings to include hospitals, clinics, private practice, local, state and federal governments,
prisons, travel assignments, skilled nursing facilities, and in-home healthcare just to name a
few settings.

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