What is a Nurse Practitioner?
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What is an NP?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse licensed to provide health care to patients. NPs are held to the same legal and ethical standards of care as physicians and are committed to providing personalized, quality health care to all. Nurse practitioners are dedicated to bridging gaps in health care to better meet the needs of our population.

Scope of Practice

An NP provides medical care to patients across the life span with a focus on health promotion and disease prevention. Nurse practitioners work independently and in collaboration with physicians. Nurse practitioners work in both rural and urban settings. They provide health care to people of all ages and in diverse health care settings, such as private office practice, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, state and local health departments, and managed care facilities.

Nurse Practitioner specialities include: 

         Acute Care
         Adult
         Family
         Gerontology
         Neonatal
         Occupational Health
         Pediatrics
         Psychiatric/Mental Health
         School

A nurse practitioner is a health care provider who: 

         Performs history and physical exams
         Diagnoses and treats medical problems
         Orders and interprets diagnostic and laboratory tests
         Educates and counsels individuals, families, and groups
         Provides healthcare maintenance exams, such as immunizations and well-child care


Education

To practice in Maryland, Nurse Practitioners are required to have at least a master’s degree.  Many have achieved the level of Doctorate.


Licensure

Nurse practitioners are licensed by the Maryland Board of Nursing. In order to practice, applicants must graduate from a nurse practitioner program approved by the Board of Nursing. Nurse practitioners must undergo certification in their area of specialty by one of the national credentialing organizations.


Other Information about Nurse Practitioners:

  • Nurse practitioners make many contributions to the health and well-being of the populations they serve.

  • There are 205,000 nurse practitioners in the nation and  approximately 3,500 NPs in Maryland. 

  • Nurse practitioners also improve the health care system's ability to reach underserved populations. Primary health care is desperately needed in many urban communities.

  • More than 20 percent of nurse practitioners practice in rural settings with populations less than 25,000. Of the 62 percent who work in cities with populations more than 50,000, more than 39 percent work in inner-city areas.

  • Nurse practitioners play a critical role in meeting Maryland’s medical needs. Nurse practitioners improve the flexibility, responsiveness, and efficiency of our health care system. Because of their focus on primary care, disease prevention, and counseling, nurse practitioners serve as health care first responders for many families. 

  • Providing excellent care since their inception at the University of Colorado in 1965, NPs have become an integral part of the health care system.

  • NPs hold prescriptive privilege in all 50 states and D.C.; they prescribe controlled substances in 49 states.

  • Malpractice rates remain low; only 2% have been named as primary defendant in a malpractice case.

  • Nurse Practitioners have been in practice an average of 10 years.
  • The average age of NPs is 49 years.
    (updated 2016 AANP Fact Sheet)

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