Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.

Nurse Practitioner

A Nurse Practitioner provides primary and specialty care, helping patients holistically through diagnostics, treatment and education.


Nurse Practitioners are in demand because they have specialized knowledge and can fill the need for primary care and experienced staff in outpatient centers, hospitals, and rural areas.

Required education
Average annual salary
Higher salary
Earn more for by having advanced skills and responsibilities.
Prescribe medications, work on your own or even start your own practice, depending on the state you work in.
Oversee other nurses and help improve healthcare for all.
Work hands-on, directly with patients.
Follow a routine that allows you to anticipate and prepare for every situation.
Take on different tasks, patients, and situations every day.
As a Nurse Practitioner, you can specialize in one of many different areas in family practice, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry, and more.
Nursing bag, medication, and signs cartoon graphic
What you’ll do


You’ll teach patients and their families about diseases, processes, treatment and the best ways to stay healthy.


Part of your responsibilities will include managing other nurses.


Your scope of practice will depend on your state regulations, ranging from full practice, to restricted practice supervised by another healthcare provider.

Where you’ll work
  • Clinics
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • Your own practice
How to become a Nurse Practitioner


Pass the NCLEX-RN.


Get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Focus on a specialty such as family and primary care, women’s health, geriatrics, or psychiatry.


Get your Board Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


You’re ready to work as a Nurse Practitioner.

Join an Organization
Become a member of a Nurse Practitioner organization to find career opportunities, learn from your colleagues, and support the profession.
Specialized Nurse Practitioners
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) at a Glance
    As a career rooted in long-term, and sometimes multigenerational patient relationships, Family Nurse Practitioners are among the most compassionate and intimately connected providers in all of healthcare. FNPs are the people you’ll likely see most throughout your medical life, and are leaned on by both patients and doctors to provide individualized healthcare insights, and support. If you enjoy working with patients every day, and building meaningful relationships, earning a nurse practitioner degree, and becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner may prove to be an extremely rewarding career.
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
    A Gerontological Nurse Practitioner is a multi-disciplined primary healthcare provider who helps patients manage the physical, mental, and social effects of aging.
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at a Glance
    As certified advanced practice nurses, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners provide a range of mental health treatment and support services to patients and their families. In addition to working with doctors to establish a diagnosis and prescribe medication, Psychiatric NPs create holistic treatment plans that prioritize a dynamic level of educational and professional support specific to each patient’s psychiatric needs.Depending on their level of education, Psychiatric NPs can pursue additional specialties within the mental health profession, and can hold a variety of roles ranging from general psychiatric assessments and diagnoses, to working as counselors, to working in a research setting. However, no matter how you function as a Psychiatric NP, it’s important to lead with compassion for your patients who likely have little control over the way they are able to process or understand their diagnosis.
An Oncology Nurse’s role is also patient-facing.
A Nephrology Nurse is another type of long-term care nurse.
Group of smiling nurses in scrubs holding folders
Group of smiling nurses in scrubs holding folders
Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.
Explore issues of our monthly newsletter, which features the many ways nurses' innovation and leadership drive transformative change in healthcare.