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Career Profile: Nurse Practitioners

Diagnose and treat acute, episodic, or chronic illness, independently or as part of a healthcare team. May focus on health promotion and disease prevention. May order, perform, or interpret diagnostic tests such as lab work and x rays. May prescribe medication. Must be registered nurses who have specialized graduate education.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 220,300 people employed as nurse practitioners in the United States. The median annual salary is $111,700. Entry level employees earn approximately $82,960 per year and senior employees earn approximately $156,160 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Diagnose or treat acute health care problems, such as illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Prescribe medication dosages, routes, and frequencies, based on such patient characteristics as age and gender.
  • Diagnose or treat chronic health care problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Prescribe medications based on efficacy, safety, and cost as legally authorized.
  • Recommend diagnostic or therapeutic interventions with attention to safety, cost, invasiveness, simplicity, acceptability, adherence, and efficacy.
  • Detect and respond to adverse drug reactions, with special attention to vulnerable populations such as infants, children, pregnant and lactating women, or older adults.
  • Treat or refer patients for primary care conditions, such as headaches, hypertension, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, and dermatological conditions.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in nursing.
  • Schedule follow-up visits to monitor patients or evaluate health or illness care.
  • Perform routine or annual physical examinations.
  • Maintain departmental policies and procedures in areas such as safety and infection control.
  • Advocate for accessible health care that minimizes environmental health risks.
  • Perform primary care procedures such as suturing, splinting, administering immunizations, taking cultures, and debriding wounds.
  • Maintain complete and detailed records of patients' health care plans and prognoses.
  • Develop treatment plans, based on scientific rationale, standards of care, and professional practice guidelines.
  • Provide patients with information needed to promote health, reduce risk factors, or prevent disease or disability.
  • Analyze and interpret patients' histories, symptoms, physical findings, or diagnostic information to develop appropriate diagnoses.
  • Diagnose or treat complex, unstable, comorbid, episodic, or emergency conditions in collaboration with other health care providers as necessary.
  • Provide patients or caregivers with assistance in locating health care resources.
  • Keep abreast of regulatory processes and payer systems, such as Medicare, Medicaid, managed care, and private sources.
  • Supervise or coordinate patient care or support staff activities.
  • Counsel patients about drug regimens and possible side effects or interactions with other substances, such as food supplements, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, or herbal remedies.
  • Order, perform, or interpret the results of diagnostic tests, such as complete blood counts (CBCs), electrocardiograms (EKGs), and radiographs (x-rays).
  • Educate patients about self-management of acute or chronic illnesses, tailoring instructions to patients' individual circumstances.
  • Maintain current knowledge of state legal regulations for nurse practitioner practice, including reimbursement of services.
  • Recommend interventions to modify behavior associated with health risks.
  • Consult with, or refer patients to, appropriate specialists when conditions exceed the scope of practice or expertise.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
220,300
Annual Openings:
26,000
Increase in Openings by 2030:
52%
Annual Salary Range:
$82,960 - $156,160
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher