Nurse practitioners (NPs) serve as primary and specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They assess patients, determine how to improve or manage a patient’s health, and discuss ways to integrate health promotion strategies into a patient’s life. Nurse practitioners typically care for a certain population of people. For instance, NPs may work in adult and geriatric health, pediatric health, or psychiatric and mental health. Although the scope of their duties varies by state, many nurse practitioners work independently, prescribe medications, and order laboratory tests. Nurse practitioners consult with physicians and other health professionals when needed.
Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), must have at least a master’s degree in their specialty role. APRNs also must be licensed registered nurses in their state, pass a national certification exam, and have a state APRN license. Although a master’s degree is the most common form of entry-level education, APRNs may choose to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. The specific educational requirements and qualifications for each of the roles are available on professional organizations’ websites.
Overall employment of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 45 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation.
Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, physicians' offices, and clinics. Most advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) work full time.