What does a Nurse Practitioner do?

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.

Jobs Roles

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