Nurse Practitioner  What They Do

Just the Facts


Nurse Practitioners Career Video



Diagnoses and treats 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.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Analyzes and interprets patients' histories, symptoms, physical findings, or diagnostic information to develop appropriate diagnoses.
  • Diagnoses or treats acute health care problems such as illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Prescribes medications based on efficacy, safety, and cost as legally authorized.
  • Recommends diagnostic or therapeutic interventions with attention to safety, cost, invasiveness, simplicity, acceptability, adherence, and efficacy.
  • Educates patients about self-management of acute or chronic illnesses, tailoring instructions to patients' individual circumstances.
  • Prescribes medication dosages, routes, and frequencies based on patient characteristics such as age and gender.
  • Orders, performs, or interprets the results of diagnostic tests, such as complete blood counts (CBCs), electrocardiograms (EKGs), and radiographs (x-rays).
  • Maintains complete and detailed records of patients' health care plans and prognoses.
  • Recommends interventions to modify behavior associated with health risks.
  • Develops treatment plans based on scientific rationale, standards of care, and professional practice guidelines.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Cardiology Nurse Practitioner -- Tends to patients with heart conditions, such as angina and congestive heart failure.
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner -- Gives medical care to newborns that are premature or have other problems, such as respiratory distress or low birth weight.