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What is a Nurse Practitioner

The following information is courtesy of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.  For more detailed explanations, visit their website at 

What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?

NPs are advanced practice nurses who provide high-quality health care services similar to those of a physician. NPs diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. They have a unique approach and stress both care and cure. Besides clinical care, NPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. They help patients make wise health and lifestyle choices. They are truly your Partners in Health.

Professional Role

Nurse Practitioners are licensed independent practitioners who practice in ambulatory, acute and long term care as primary and/or specialty care providers. According to their practice specialty they provide nursing and medical services to individuals, families and groups. In addition to diagnosing and managing acute episodic and chronic illnesses, nurse practitioners emphasize health promotion and disease prevention. Services include, but are not limited to, ordering, conducting, supervising, and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, and prescription of pharmacologic agents and non pharmacologic therapies. Teaching and counseling individuals, families and groups are a major part of nurse practitioner practice.

As licensed independent practitioners, nurse practitioners practice autonomously and in collaboration with health care professionals and other individuals to assess, diagnose, treat and manage the patient's health problems/needs. They serve as health care researchers, interdisciplinary consultants and patient advocates.


Entry level preparation for nurse practitioner practice is at the master's, post master's or doctoral level. Didactic and clinical courses prepare nurses with specialized knowledge and clinical competency to practice in primary care, acute care and long term health care settings. Self-directed continued learning and professional development beyond the formal advanced education is essential to maintain clinical competency.


The autonomous nature of the nurse practitioner's advanced clinical practice requires accountability for health care outcomes. Ensuring the highest quality of care requires certification, periodic peer review, clinical outcome evaluations, a code for ethical practice, evidence of continuing professional development and maintenance of clinical skills. Nurse practitioners are committed to seeking and sharing knowledge that promotes quality health care and improves clinical outcomes. This is accomplished by leading and participating in both professional and lay health care forums, conducting research and applying findings to clinical practice.


The role of the nurse practitioner continues to evolve in response to changing societal and health care needs. As leaders in primary and acute health care, nurse practitioners combine the roles of provider, mentor, educator, researcher and administrator. Members of the profession are responsible for advancing the role of the nurse practitioner and ensuring that the standards of the profession are maintained. This is accomplished through involvement in professional organizations and participation in health policy activities at the local, state, national and international levels.

"Mid-Level Provider"

What do you say when you are called a "Mid level provider?"

  • Click here for an American Academy of Nurse Practitioners document regarding the use of terms like "Mid-Level Provider" and "Physician Extender"

10/16/2020 » 10/17/2020
43rd Annual NPO Education Conference

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