All states in the nation employ nurse practitioners. Of these 50 states, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow nurses to work without having another healthcare provider as a supervisor. Most states require nurse practitioners to acquire a master degree, though some states do not. Before they can work in the field, candidates wishing to work as nurse practitioners must apply for licensure from the state in which they want to practice. Each state determines its own certification and licensing criteria. In most cases, the criteria require the candidate to acquire a master degree in nursing and apply for board certification from an approved accrediting body.
Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: What’s the Difference
For many people, determining the difference between a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner can be difficult. The primary difference between these two careers lies in the training required for each career. While a physician assistant doesn’t need any healthcare experience or medical background, a nurse practitioner must typically have a certain amount of nursing experience.
By definition, a nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has acquired an advanced degree and clinical experience. With this background, the NP can diagnose and treat most illnesses. NPs may work as part of a team, while others work independently. The primary responsibilities of NPs include patient education, counseling, disease prevention and health maintenance.
A physician assistant, or PA, is trained to provide patients with therapeutic, preventative and diagnostic services while working under the supervision of a physician. PAs typically work as part of a healthcare team. Their primary duties include diagnosing and treating minor injuries, ordering and reading X-rays and lab tests, examining and treating patients and taking medical histories. PAs also carry out therapy, counsel patients and record progress notes.
Alabama: Nurse Practitioners at-a-glance
Number of NPs: 1,925
NPs per 100,000 populations: 40
Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: Alabama Board of Nursing
Do you need to be an RN? Yes
Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing degree to become a NP? Yes, you must have graduated from a program that the board of nursing and/or a certifying agency recognizes as acceptable.
Are there other requirements? Yes, you must also have certification from a national agency recognized by the Alabama Board of Nursing.
How much does a Nurse Practitioner earn in Alabama? Nurse practitioners earn $98,000 per year (Salaries vary based on years of experience, educational background, geographic location and employment setting)
Do NPs need a physician’s supervision for diagnosis and treatment? Yes, nurse practitioners cannot practice without forging a relationship with a licensed physician.
Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication? No, as long as the prescriber’s title and state-issued Rx number are present on the prescription pad, the nurse practitioner can prescribe medication without the approval of a supervising physician. The supervising physician’s name and address must appear on all prescriptions.
Are there drug classifications that NPs cannot prescribe? An Alabama nurse practitioner cannot prescribe any controlled substance.
Alabama: Nurse Practitioner Outlook
According to a national healthcare reform advocacy group known as Community Catalyst, Alabama misses the mark in primary care. To improve primary care, Alabama must find ways to make healthcare more cost effective without sacrificing the quality of patient care.