Nurse practitioners (NPs) are healthcare professionals who are independently licensed to provide a blend of nursing and medical care in a wide range of settings to a variety of patients.  NPs are registered nurses (RNs) with advanced clinical graduate education at the master’s, post-master’s, or doctoral level, preparing them to provide a range of services, including ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, determining medical diagnosis, and prescribing pharmacologic agents and non- pharmacologic therapies. NPs are skilled clinicians who emphasize patient engagement and health promotion in their care.


NPs are prepared in one or more of the following population foci: acute care, adult, family, gerontological, neonatal, pediatrics, psychiatric/mental health, or women’s health.  Beyond these practice areas, NPs may choose to focus in specialty areas such as cardiology, dermatology, or orthopedics. However, approximately 79% of practicing NP serve as primary care providers.


There currently is a serious shortage of primary care providers.  There is a growing population of older adults and patients with complex health problems.   Almost 50 years of research supports the high quality and cost-effectiveness of NP care.