Nurse Practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who have additional responsibilities for administering patient care than RNs. NPs can prescribe medication, examine patients, diagnose illnesses, and provide treatment, much like physicians do. In fact, nurse practitioners have what’s referred to as “full practice authority” in 20 states, meaning that they do not have to work under the supervision of a doctor. In the remaining states, however, while NPs still have more authority than RNs, they must have a medical doctor sign on certain patient care decisions.
Nevertheless, nurse practitioners are increasingly becoming integral to medical teams as more and more hospitals and healthcare facilities are utilizing their expertise. Their experience as working nurses gives them a unique approach to patient care, while their advanced studies qualify them to take on additional duties that are usually left to physicians. In fact, as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), it’s estimated that NPs can provide 80-90 percent of the care that primary care physicians offer.