All nurses play an increasingly important role in healthcare within many specialties. However, a nurse practitioner (NP) has a unique set of qualifications. So, what exactly is a nurse practitioner, and what do nurse practitioners do?
The typical nurse practitioner scope of practice includes, but is not limited to:
- Performing regular check-ups
- Ordering and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests
- Diagnosing diseases
- Creating treatment plans
You will find nurse practitioners in a variety of medical environments – including hospitals, primary practice, family care settings, urgent care and more – although more than 75% of NPs work as primary care nurse practitioners. However, nurse practitioner private practices have become more common in recent years. NP practices may specialize in certain areas of medicine including:
- Acute care
- Cardiac medicine
- Family medicine
- Neonatal medicine
- Nurse midwife
- Psychiatry and mental health
- Women’s health
Clearly, what it means to be a nurse practitioner can vary. But regardless of the setting or specialty, NPs play an important role in providing primary or specialized healthcare services.
What It Means to Be a Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners take a holistic approach to healthcare and are trained to focus on overall improved health and disease prevention. That emphasis on the whole patient has been linked to improved patient satisfaction.
In fact, one patient study found that:
- 98% reported satisfaction with an NP providing care
- 95% felt that the NP was able to effectively deal with illness
- 94% reported an increased chance or willingness to see an NP at a future visit
Still, only 73% of patients understood the difference between an NP and a registered nurse. Clearly, education concerning “What is a nurse practitioner?” is necessary to ensure that patients have a solid understanding – and appreciation – of the quality care that NPs provide.
Training and Education
In order to obtain licensure, nurse practitioners must first undergo rigorous educational requirements. First, NPs must complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – typically from a four-year program. Next, they must obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which usually takes two to four years.
After graduation, NPs must then pass a board exam to be certified in their specialty practice area. Finally, NPs must obtain a license from each state they wish to practice in, and complete mandatory continuing education hours every year.
Closing Gaps in Healthcare
With an ongoing shortage of primary care and rural physicians, nurse practitioners are extremely in demand as they help to fill gaps in healthcare. By establishing a private practice in areas with limited access to quality care, the nurse practitioner entrepreneur is having a positive impact on the healthcare landscape.
NPs also deliver significant cost savings for patients. It is no secret that healthcare costs have been soaring for decades. Studies have shown that NPs provide the same services as doctors, but at a fraction of the cost. In fact, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) cites multiple studies showing that NPs can provide better patient outcomes at lower costs, including the following:
- A study by the Perryman Group analyzed the potential economic impact of recruiting more nurse practitioners and found an estimated $16.1 billion in immediate savings, which would continue to increase over time
- A review of NPs in one managed care organization found that they provided care at 23% lower costs than physicians, resulting in a 21% reduction in hospitalization costs
- A study published in Nursing Economics found that care provided by a nurse practitioner provided was associated with lower overall drug costs for patients in acute care settings
Summary: What is a nurse practitioner?
By taking a patient-centric, holistic approach, nurse practitioners play a valuable role in patient care. They also make a significant contribution to our healthcare system by providing high-quality care that is both affordable and accessible for patient populations.
NPs also have impressive educational credentials and expertise in a wide variety of specialties and healthcare settings. Increasingly, we see the nurse practitioner private practice becoming more common. In the future, expect to see NPs continue to have a positive impact on healthcare.
NP Advantage Can Help
With 25 years of experience helping providers build and market practices, we are uniquely equipped to help jumpstart, grow, and support your NP private practice. We bring the same level of care to your practice that you bring to your patients with support that includes:
- Credentialing: Managing administrative processes of credentialing applications and renewal
- Electronic Health Records: EHR set up and training to ensure your practice runs smoothly
- Payer Contracting: Optimizing payer contracting to get the most out of fee-for-service and value-based care contracts
- Operations Consulting: Refining office workflows and helping with staff training
- Practice Marketing: Providing website design, and marketing services such as social media and reputation management
- Billing and RCM: Establishing processes such as billing, coding, and claims management
- Telehealth: Activate to expand your practice while reducing no-shows
- Analytics: Financial, patient, services and patient visits reports to inform real-time, data-driven decisions