The field of medicine has a new growing trend: nurse practitioners. This advanced role of nursing is starting to become the new “face” of medicine. To understand the role that NP’s play in the ever-changing world of medicine, it is important to understand what a nurse practitioner is.

Over the next few minutes we are going to look at two things in particular: the role of a nurse practitioner and how they are changing the medical field. While doing so, we will look at what it means to have “full practice” and the impact that has in the community. For more information on why full practice is necessary, you can check out this article.

The Role of a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have earned a master’s degree in nursing, and as a result, have become an advanced practicing registered nurse (APRN for short). Also referred to as an NP (or even an FNP- family nurse practitioner) they all share a similar foundation: holding a master’s degree in nursing.

NP’s offer a variety of services. From diagnostic services, such as x-rays and CT scans, to ordering labs, filling prescriptions, and diagnosing mental illnesses. In essence, they hold comparable authority to doctors, but without the expensive office visit. More and more families across the world are choosing to see nurse practitioners for their daily health care because of the authority that NPs hold. For example, many NPs either run their own practice (thanks to full-practice laws) or work with other nurse practitioners in a medical setting. They often work autonomously, meaning that they are fit and prepared to confirm and make diagnoses on their own, without the aid of a doctor.

The medical field today is always revolving and nurse practitioners have a very large role to play in it. Next, we will look at what it means for an NP to have “full practice” and how that is influencing the world around them.

Changing the Game

As you have seen mentioned a few times, full practice for APRNs has shaken up the medical field. So then, what is full practice and how does it affect the medical industry? The American Association of Registered Nurses (AARN) puts it best, “Full practice authority is the collection of state practice and licensure laws that allow for nurse practitioners to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments—including prescribe medications—under the exclusive licensure authority of the of the state board of nursing”. When a nurse practitioner has “full practice” that means that they truly can be their own boss and provide equal care to that of a doctor in their communities. Right now about half of the continental US has full practice laws, something that is continuing to change as the years go on.

As you can see, by having the ability to provide excellent and compassionate care, at a more affordable price, NPs are extensively shaking up the medical playing field. One that is beneficial to everyone involved. If you are interested in joining the medical field, then look into the role of nurse practitioners. You can help change the medical world one patient at a time.