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Becoming a Utah Nurse Practitioner

Career News September 15, 2013

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) serve in a variety of capacities. They are qualified to diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses including common illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. They can also perform certain medical procedures and prescribe medications. Typically, all Nurse Practitioners must first become Registered Nurses (RNs). Then, they must earn a graduate degree in nursing and take national board exams in order to become certified. Important skills that Nurse Practitioners need to possess include “people skills,” the ability to handle stress, and problem-solving skills.

Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: What’s the Difference?

Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants (PAs) are very similar. Both can diagnose and treat a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. The difference between the two basically comes down to background and training. NPs have at least a few years of nursing experience under their belt whereas PAs typically do not. NPs can also have their own practice in certain states (including Utah), whereas PAs always work under a doctor.

PAs follow the more traditional medical school path, which is similar to the path someone would take to become a doctor. They spend roughly a year in supervised clinical training before they can become a Physician Assistant. Both NPs and PAs become licensed by passing an exam, in the end, you can expect the same level of treatment from both a Physician Assistant and a Nurse Practitioner. However, on average, NPs make a few thousand dollars more annually than PAs.

Utah: Nurse Practitioners at-a-glance

Number of NPs: 1,445

NPs per 100,000 populations: 51

Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: Utah Board of Nursing

Do you need to be an RN? Yes

Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing to become a NP? Yes, in order to become a Utah Nurse Practitioner, you must have a graduate degree either in nursing or a related specialization. A Master of Science in Nursing degree is one of the most common graduate degrees that Utah NPs get.

Are there other requirements? Yes, you need to complete coursework in diagnosis, treatment, pharmacotheraputics, and patient assessment from a program approved by the board. You must also pass board exams and be approved by the division in collaboration with the board.

How much does a Nurse Practitioner earn? $87,000 per year (Salaries vary based on the employment setting, geographic location, educational background and years of experience).

Do NPs need a physician’s supervision for diagnosis and treatment? No

Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication? No

Are there drug classifications that NPs cannot prescribe? If so, provide details:

Prescriptions for Cocaine HCL are limited to topical preparations and prescriptions for Schedule II-III drugs cannot be written for weight management. Authority to provide controlled substances is governed by state registration requirements and federal DEA registration rules.

Utah: Nurse Practitioner Outlook

Currently, Utah is one of only sixteen states (including the District of Columbia) that allow Nurse Practitioners to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications to patients without a physician being involved in the patient care process. This means increased autonomy and job opportunities for NPs, as well as increased primary health care availability for patients.

The demand for NPs in Utah is high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nursing jobs will grow 26% from 2010 to 2020 nationwide, and similar growth will be seen for Utah nurse practitioners as well.

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