Health and Fitness

The Role of a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners are Registered Nurses (RNs) who have pursued graduate-level education and advanced clinical training to obtain a certification of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). They may work in hospitals or clinics, with Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), in hospice, as associates in doctor's offices or in private practice. You can also read more about nurse practitioners at

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The role of a Nurse Practitioner is to provide quality care and treatment for patients with both acute and chronic health care conditions. Much as a General Practitioner (GP) would, Nurse Practitioners see patients and take detailed health histories. They communicate with patients and physically examine them to determine diagnoses. They may order diagnostic or lab tests such as blood work or x-ray imaging and interpret the results of those tests. They may also prescribe medications, with some limitations. They are able to order physical therapy or other rehabilitative treatments and to counsel patients about lifestyle changes necessary to improve overall health. Nurse Practitioners also refer patients to specialists.

Nurse Practitioners can also be board certified in health care specialties, including family care, women's health, pediatrics, geriatrics, and mental health. They are qualified to diagnose and treat common illnesses and often work closely with physicians to determine long-term patient care strategies. Many Nurse Practitioners are active in the public health sphere, leading community classes or seminars on weight management, prenatal care, elder care or other topics as determined by their specialty.

The role of a Nurse Practitioner is to provide high-quality cost-effective health care. The continuing shortage of general practice physicians and other health care providers has increased the demand for qualified Nurse Practitioners.