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Nurse Practitioners

Learn How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs), or Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs), are advanced practice nurses who have acquired knowledge and skills beyond the regular RN and provide care to patients throughout their lives, from premature newborns to the elderly.

They are educated at the master’s level or higher and offer a wide variety of nursing and health care services to a wide variety of patients. Nurse practitioners often work under a physician but can diagnose many acute and chronic diseases and recommend appropriate treatment plans, including prescribing medications in some states.

Nurse practitioners may specialize in a particular area, such as family practice, adult practice, women’s health, pediatrics, or mental health. They must be board certified in a particular area and practice within that scope of expertise. In some cases, the nurse practitioner may serve as a patient’s primary health care provider. Nurse practitioners may also conduct research or participate in patient advocacy activities.

Preparation Path

Get your BSN

Pass the NCLEX to become an RN

Work as a staff nurse in your specialty of interest

Earn your MSN

Take a certification exam in your specialty

Work as a nurse practitioner

Become board certified in your specialty area (voluntary)

Maintain your license through continuing education and clinical hours

Typical Tasks

  • Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses, injuries, and infections
  • Writing prescriptions for medications, including their dosage and frequency
  • Ordering and conducting diagnostic tests, like electrocardiograms (EKGs) and X-rays
  • Designing treatment plans, making recommendations, and teaching patients about managing their health
  • Examining and recording patient medical histories, symptoms, and diagnoses
  • Providing guidance to patients about medications, side effects, and interactions

Employment Settings

  • Public hospitals and military hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Private practices
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Managed care organizations
  • Community health centers
  • Schools

Annual Salary Range

$91,500 – $120,500


Certification in CPR or Basic Life Support, plus board certification in your specialty area if desired

Education Requirements


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Ready to take the first step to become a nurse practitioner?