Certified nurse practitioners are increasingly taking over many duties of physicians. They record patient histories, perform physical exams, assign and interpret lab results, prescribe medications, order therapy, and refer patients to specific healthcare professionals. The American Nurses Association reports that 60 to 80 percent of patient care can be conducted today by nurse practitioners.
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Preparing for a Career as a Nurse Practitioner
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports nursing professions are among the 10 fastest-growing careers in America. You may begin your nursing career as a practical or licensed nurse. By completing a two or four-year nursing degree you can take licensing exams to become a registered nurse. Additional training in nurse practitioner programs at the post-graduate level can provide you with the necessary career skills to become a certified nursing practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements
Nursing practitioner degree programs can take from three to five years to complete, culminating in a master's degree. Graduates are prepared to sit for the national nurse practitioner certification examination offered by the National League for Nursing. Nursing practitioner programs can also lead to a certified midwife credential or doctor of nursing practice degree. Practitioners can specialize in family practice, women's health, pediatrics, and geriatrics.
Salary Range and Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
Nurses today hold 2.6 million jobs. The 2008 median annual wage for registered nurses was $62,450--up to $92,240 for the top ten-percent earners. The BLS predicts a 22 percent increase in jobs for registered nurses between 2008 and 2018.