Role of Nurse Practitioner: A Comprehensive Look

Summary: The role of nurse practitioner is to provide acute and primary care to patients across the healthcare continuum, from assessing, diagnosing and treating illnesses to educating communities on disease prevention. If you want to become a nurse practitioner, the Direct Entry MSN program at Marquette University can get you started.

A male marquette student checking the heartbeat of a patient during clinical

In today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape, the role of nurse practitioner (NP) has never been more important in acute and primary care.  

In this post, you’ll learn about the effect nurse practitioners have on our nation’s healthcare system, including their important contributions serving on the front lines of patient care. And should you feel drawn to the role, we’ll explain how Marquette University can accelerate your NP career.

What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?

Since the profession started in 1965, the nurse practitioner role has become increasingly important to our healthcare system with each passing year.

Broadly speaking, the nurse practitioner of today is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who provides acute and primary care to people across the lifespan by:

  • Listening to patients, families and communities to understand their health needs and offer emotional support.
  • Diagnosing and treating health conditions.
  • Creating patient care plans.
  • Prescribing medications (level of authority varies).
  • Educating individuals and families on disease prevention.
  • Ordering, interpreting and discussing results of diagnostic tests with patients.

Nurse practitioners work independently and in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, in settings that include hospitals, private practices, urgent care clinics and long-term care facilities. Keep in mind that the scope of practice for a nurse practitioner varies from state to state, and sometimes even from setting to setting.

No matter the setting, nurse practitioners play an important role on the front lines of patient care. Nurses spend a lot of time with patients and their families; as a result, this often means they may be the first to notice when their condition takes a turn and must act quickly and in concert with other healthcare providers on the patient’s care team.

Even in non-emergency situations, this also makes nurse practitioners natural patient advocates, as they take the time to get to know those under their care and their loved ones on a personal level at important times in their lives. NPs listen and seek to understand a person’s health needs, then work in partnership with patients and families to support and help them manage their own health.

Why Are Nurse Practitioners Important?

Nurse practitioners are a vital part of our nation’s healthcare system as they bring a comprehensive perspective and personal touch to patient care. They also serve as healthcare providers and educators.

According to the AANP, these advanced practice registered nurses are becoming the healthcare provider of choice for millions of Americans. Below are just some of the ways nurse practitioners are invaluable to patient care.

  • NPs help patients get well and stay well through education and continuity of care at both the individual and community level.
  • NPs lower healthcare costs by providing patients with high-quality care and counseling.
  • NPs are essential advocates for healthcare policy. Their experiences with patients, clinical expertise and educational background enable them to present a solid case for passing legislation on important healthcare issues.

Not to mention, with their advanced clinical training and expertise, nurse practitioners are important because they have even more of an opportunity to make a difference in their patients’ lives. For all the reasons listed above, any shift a nurse practitioner works could see him or her potentially saving the lives of their patients.

What Is the Need for Nurse Practitioners?

While some states have a greater need for nurse practitioners than others, the overall demand for these advanced practice registered nurses is high, particularly in rural areas. Many APRNs also have opportunities to deliver care via telehealth models.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that openings for nurse practitioners will increase 52% between 2019 and 2029, substantially faster than the average 4% growth across all occupations. As of May 2020, the BLS lists these five states as having the highest employment levels for nurse practitioners:

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Ohio

Factors driving the demand for NPs include an aging population that requires more healthcare services and an increase in team-based primary care delivery.

What Are the Highest Paying States for Nurse Practitioners?

Nurse practitioners are among the highest-paid nurses in the country. As of May 2020, the BLS lists these five states as having the highest salaries for this occupation in terms of annual mean wages. 2020 Salary Ranges According to CareerOneStop.org:

  • California, salaries range anywhere from $107,310 to $208,000
  • New Jersey, salaries range anywhere from $93,050 to $177,010
  • Washington, salaries range anywhere from $90,980 to $162,080
  • New York, salaries range anywhere from $88,430 to $167,320
  • Massachusetts, salaries range anywhere from $93,040 to $167,850

Keep in mind that factors such as education, experience, certifications, state of employment and practice setting play into how much a nurse practitioner makes annually.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner With a Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree

While there are different ways to become a nurse practitioner, we’re going to focus on how Marquette University can put you on the fast track to the profession.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, our Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program makes it possible for you to earn an MSN degree in less than two years. It does so by leveraging your existing education and having you complete rigorous, full-time nursing curricula.   

Once you have your MSN, obtain your RN license and have a year of nursing experience, you’re eligible to complete one of the nurse practitioner certificate programs offered by our university: the adult-gerontology or pediatric acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) certificate programs and the adult-gerontology or pediatric primary care nurse practitioner (NP) certificate programs.

From there, you must pass the national certification examination that corresponds with your chosen area of practice. And finally, you must obtain your NP license before you can work as a nurse practitioner. 

From non-nursing bachelor's degree to nurse practitioner in 5 steps

Related Post: 5 Steps to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner if You Already Have a Bachelor’s Degree.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program

Whether you want to work in adult health or pediatrics, our ACNP certificate program prepares you to assess, diagnose and treat patients in acute care situations. As an ACNP, you’ll be able to work in a variety of settings that include emergency rooms, intensive care units and outpatient clinics — caring for individuals who have a critical illness or are suffering from a complex, chronic health condition.

According to payscale.com, the median annual salary for ACNPs working in the United States is close to $104,000.

  • Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners care for acutely ill patients ages 13 and up and must pass the national certification for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP).
  • Pediatric acute care nurse practitioners manage care for children and families with complex acute and chronic pediatric health problems. They must pass the certification as a Pediatric Acute Care Practitioner.

Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program

Whether you want to work in adult health or pediatrics, our NP certificate program prepares you to assess, diagnose and treat patients in primary care settings. As an NP, you’ll be able to practice in places that include urgent care clinics, family practices, internal medicine clinics and public health clinics, as well as in telehealth roles. Overall, primary care NPs provide comprehensive, continuous care characterized by the long-term relationships they have with their patients.

According to payscale.com, the median annual salary for primary care NPs working in the United States is close to $97,000.

  • Adult-gerontology primary care primary nurse practitioners have advanced knowledge of clinical assessments, diagnosis and management of episodic and chronic health conditions for patients ages 13 and up. They must pass the AGPCNP certification examination.
  • Pediatric acute care nurse practitioners manage simple and complex pediatric health care problems for children and families, usually in primary care settings. They must pass the certification as a Pediatric Acute Care Practitioner.

See what it’s like getting a master’s degree from Marquette University.

How Our Direct Entry MSN Program Works

Our full-time Direct Entry MSN program combines nursing theory coursework with nursing labs and clinical rotations. It’s a fast-paced learning sequence that prepares you to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN®) with confidence and enter the profession as a practice-ready nurse.

  • Nursing theory courses set the foundation for your education, covering subjects such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, healthcare advocacy and informatics.
  • Nursing skills labs provide a contextual platform for you to develop core clinical skills, such as the safe application of catheterizations and nasogastric tube insertions.
  • Nursing simulation labs are realistic clinical intervention experiences with high-fidelity simulation manikins that develop your critical thinking and clinical judgment across the continuum of patient care.
  • Clinical rotations are supervised real-world experiences that provide a deeper understanding of the profession by putting you in direct contact with patients.
direct entry msn students in nursing sim lab
Direct Entry MSN students in the nursing simulation lab.

Our Direct Entry MSN program ranked #47 of 173 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs for 2021.

Our Direct Entry MSN Program Locations

Our Direct Entry MSN program has two enrollment locations in Wisconsin—Milwaukee and Pleasant Prairie. Both locations teach the same accredited nursing curriculum taught by highly supportive and experienced instructors. There are, however, differences between these locations, so pick the one that best fits your learning style.

Milwaukee Location

By choosing this location, you’ll complete your nursing theory coursework in the classroom. You’ll attend your nursing skills and simulation labs on our main campus. Your clinicals will take place at healthcare facilities in metro Milwaukee, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. This location offers one start date a year, with classes starting in May.

Pleasant Prairie Location

By choosing this location, you’ll complete your nursing theory coursework online. You’ll attend your nursing skills and simulation labs at our off-site location. Your clinicals will take place at healthcare facilities in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. This location offers two start dates a year, with classes starting in January and August.

See how the Marquette Direct Entry MSN put Shelby on the path to nursing career success.

The Value of a Marquette Nursing Education

For more than eight decades, the College of Nursing at Marquette University has made it possible for individuals to be part of something bigger than themselves. With more than 7,000 nursing alumni to date, we’ve been a top choice among nursing students for reasons that include:

  • Our expert, nationally recognized nursing faculty.
  • Our close-knit cohorts and small student-to-faculty ratios.
  • Our innovative teaching strategies that utilize advanced technology.
  • Our diverse clinical experiences with supportive preceptors.

As a Marquette nursing student, you’ll engage in high-quality teaching-learning experiences that prepare you to “Be the Difference” for the individuals, families and communities you serve. You’ll receive an education grounded in Jesuit principles and pedagogy and graduate as someone who embraces:

  • Cura personalisas a framework for nursing practice (care for the whole person).
  • Critical thinking and careful assessment to determine the best course of action. 
  • Advocating for those who need a voice or a valuable cause.
  • Leadership that provides guidance, engages others and supports the progress of goals.
  • Social justice and the relentless pursuit of just cause, despite all obstacles.

“The Marquette Nurse provides holistic care to every patient. We examine everything that could impact the health or illness of an individual—looking at factors such as vulnerability, access to care, health literacy and health inequities.”

—Kathleen Muglia, Director of the Direct Entry MSN program, Marquette University

Ready to Work Toward the Role of Nurse Practitioner?

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA, you can begin the admission process for our Direct Entry MSN program in Milwaukee or Pleasant Prairie. While applying to nursing school may seem overwhelming, our dedicated admissions team is ready to help you navigate the process. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today to start working toward your nurse practitioner career.

Get Started Today

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