What’s the Difference Between a Nurse Practioner and Registered Nurse

by Chad Agrawal

Nurses are tasked with the invaluable task of caring for patients. Unlike doctors who merely look to a person’s medical afflictions, nurses are required to go beyond the scientific to extend both emotional and physical support.

As the works of nurses vary dramatically day-to-day, it is just natural that these professions have been divided into different specializations to ensure optimal facilitation and care.

Of the many types of nursing professionals, Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are perhaps the most popular.

To us who are not in the know, these two professions seem one and the same. In reality however, these are two different specializations though belonging in the same industry.

1. Registered Nurse (RN)

To be a registered nurse, one has to complete a 4 year nursing course from a certified nursing school. This basic course provides all aspiring nurses with the right tools to properly care for patients while confidently working with other health care professionals.

As RN’s, it is their role to provide patients with all their basic care needs. Apart from this, they are also delegated the responsibility of assessing, planning, and administering proper treatments that are most suitable to fit the patient’s need. In between these jobs, registered nurses carry out an array of different functions that range from administering medications to monitoring the vital signs and progress of a patient along with educating them on the specifics of their conditions. In effect, an RN’s primary role is to carry out the special instructions of the doctors to ensure the patient’s full treatment and recovery.

A great thing about being an RN is that they can work in almost all areas of the medical field and with additional training can find a specialization that they are most passionate about.

2. Nurse Practitioner (NP)

A Nurse practitioner is initially a registered nurse who has furthered their studies to finish a master’s or doctoral degree to include additional training in diagnostics, pharmacology, diagnosis and general patient management practices.

In the United States, an NP is required to secure a license in the state where they work. Moving from an RN to an NP empowers the nurse to take on a more active role in the patient’s care and may even perform tasks that were previously reserved for medical physicians. In fact, a number of states honor prescriptions from nurse practitioners due to the fact that these health care professionals have undergone a more rigorous medical and clinical training.

What sets NPs from RNs is the fact that the former may or may not work under the supervision of a doctor. As Nurse practitioners are already trained to perform diagnostics, they are given the free reign to evaluate a patient and execute treatment for common health issues.

Salary wise, NPs also rake in a higher share of professional fee given their additional expertise. On average, an NP can earn up to $ 80,000 a year while an RN is only paid half as much.

While there is a huge difference between the two, there is still no denying that nurses in general perform a valuable task to anyone who is need of medical care.

If you’d like to learn more about the educational requirements of an RN and NP, visit www.onlinenursingdegrees.org/ to compare programs and career opportunities.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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