Types of Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses with the authority to diagnose conditions, order tests, and prescribe medications. Their precise responsibilities depend on their specialty and state regulations.

Types of Nurse Practitioner Specialties

NPs have an expanded scope of practice compared to registered nurses. They undergo additional training at the Masters or Doctoral level along with national certification exams. The NP role was created 50 years ago and has been integral to improving healthcare accessibility. Below is an overview of the different licenses that NPs can obtain.

Why Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner in the United States offers an excellent path for experienced nurses looking to advance their practice. The average NP in the U.S. earns around $137,000 annually. This lucrative salary allows NPs to make a huge impact caring directly for patients as independent providers. Experienced NPs can also continue to advance their careers over time through Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs.

In addition to attractive salaries, nurse practitioners enjoy fulfilling careers where they can make a real difference in patients’ lives. NPs often serve as primary care providers, allowing them to develop long-term relationships with patients and provide continuous, comprehensive care. They get to diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, and order and interpret tests. By becoming an NP, nurses can expand their knowledge base and take on higher-level responsibilities in caring for patients.

Nurse Practitioner

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family NPs deliver primary care to patients of all ages. Making up about 70% of NPs, they perform exams, develop treatment plans, provide patient education, and more. Their role help address shortages in primary care. Family NPs can treat entire families across their lifespan, building long-term relationships and understanding each patient’s unique needs. 

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Psychiatric NPs diagnose and treat mental illness, disorders, and addiction in collaboration with psychiatrists in mental health centers, schools, hospitals, or private practice. Psychiatric NPs can prescribe psychiatric medications and provide different types of psychotherapy to meet individual patient needs. With mental healthcare shortages, their accessibility and comprehensive care play an important role.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP)

Neonatal nurse practitioners care for newborns up to two years old who were born early, have birth defects, illnesses, or other health problems. Working alongside doctors and nurses in neonatal intensive care units, they assess, diagnose, and treat critically ill infants. An important part of their job involves counseling and teaching parents how to care for their medically fragile babies.

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

Women’s health NPs provide gynecologic and reproductive health services including diagnosing and treating reproductive system disorders. They often work in OB/GYN offices. Women’s health NPs can provide prenatal and postpartum care, contraceptive services, menopause management as well as testing and treating cervical cancer. Many patients rely on them as their principal women’s healthcare provider.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

Acute care nurse practitioners work in hospitals and urgent care settings, diagnosing and treating injuries and illnesses that require immediate medical care. They also provide patient education and healthy lifestyle counseling. In addition, they can prescribe medications, order tests, and develop treatment plans for their patients.


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