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Nurse Practitioners - Empowering Healthcare through Advanced Practice and Compassionate Care

Nurse Practitioners: Empowering Healthcare through Advanced Practice and Compassionate Care

Nurse Practitioners - Empowering Healthcare through Advanced Practice and Compassionate Care

Nurse practitioners play a pivotal role in American healthcare. Serving in many states as replacements for everything from general practitioners to psychologists, they have a broad range of talents and qualifications that allow them to make an enormous impact on their patients’ lives.

Nurse Practitioners - Empowering Healthcare through Advanced Practice and Compassionate Care

Of course, this is the American healthcare we are talking about. Nothing is ever straightforward, and the nurse practitioner scene is no exception. In this article, we take a look at how nurse practitioners are making a difference in healthcare, and what is holding them back in some places. 

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are nurses with a special qualification that allows them to take on more responsibilities. While said qualification can empower them to operate in much the same capacity as a general practitioner, their actual responsibilities can range significantly based both on where they are located and what type of specialization they choose.

Because their skills are so versatile, they are an important asset to the healthcare industry, which continues to experience dangerous personal shortages all over the country.

In a world where hospitals don’t have enough of— well, anyone— it can be very useful to have a roster of highly qualified professionals that can be considered fully qualified in about half the time it takes to become a medical doctor. 

Below, we will explore what nurse practitioners can do, and what is holding them back from doing even more. 

Making Diagnosis

Nurse practitioners have the unique ability to diagnose patients with disorders. This may sound so fundamental that it’s boring. After all, isn’t that what you go to the hospital for? But it’s also an important asset because historically, doctors have been the only ones who were allowed to provide diagnoses. 

Having extra professionals available to do it can make a significant difference in how hospitals and healthcare clinics operate. More able professionals means shorter wait times and possibly even greater community interest in engaging with the healthcare system. 

Prescribe Medications

Nurse practitioners can also prescribe medications to their patients— another responsibility that used to be the exclusive domain of doctors. The benefits are similar:

  • When nurse practitioners can prescribe medication, patients get what they need quickly. Doctors tend to be a little bit busier than other healthcare professionals because they have unique responsibilities that only they can take on. There are also fewer of them than there are nurses. A hospital floor may only have one doctor for every five or six nurses. Having more people who can perform their responsibilities helps avoid patient bottlenecking. 
  • Patient options. More diversity in caregivers also gives patients a greater number of options to choose from. A diversity of choice is an important aspect of patient care that often gets lost in the greater discussion of healthcare costs and limitations. People need to feel connected with their physicians— at least to the point that they trust them with their health-related needs. 

While it may not take doctors a terribly long time to write subscriptions, every little thing can help decrease healthcare bottlenecks, and improve the system as a whole. 

Filling in the Gaps

Nurse practitioners can also specialize, taking on unique responsibilities that further allow hospitals to fill in the gaps in the care they are able to provide. Because there are literally dozens of different specializations, we won’t be able to touch on everything that nurse practitioners can do. 

However, do note that these specialties can range significantly, from providing mental health care to delivering babies. 


It all sounds great, right? Nurse practitioners are a little like a combination between a doctor and a nurse. What’s not to like? While this combination does entice many people to pursue their credentials as nurse practitioners, it is worth noting that there are limitations to be on the lookout for.

Most of these limitations are geographical. State law dictates what responsibilities a nurse practitioner can carry out. In some states, they are given significant autonomy, able to carry out their responsibilities in much the same fashion as a general practitioner. They may even be able to open up their own practice and see patients with complete autonomy. 

In other states, they will be required to have a doctor sign off on and supervise all of their decisions. Naturally, this regulation tends to undermine the point of having someone who can fill in for a doctor without requiring their extensive credentials. 

The regulations that dictate what a nurse practitioner can do will vary pretty significantly based on where you live, so it is always a good idea to learn more about your local laws before taking the steps required to become a nurse practitioner. 

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Becoming a nurse practitioner is a challenging and lengthy process that can take many years to complete— particularly when you factor in that you first need to attain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing to be eligible. 

Once you have established yourself as an RN, you will usually want to gain some field experience. Most people work as a nurse as they pursue their MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) or DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). 

Once you have gotten your degree, you will need to get certified by passing whatever exam your state requires for licensure. 

As an NP, opportunities for growth and specialization abound, enabling advanced patient care, autonomy, and leadership roles. Dedicated commitment and ongoing learning are integral to becoming a skilled and effective nurse practitioner.

It is a challenging path, but also a deeply rewarding one. If you are passionate about healthcare, consider becoming a nurse practitioner and changing lives in your community.

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