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Oregon: Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Career News September 16, 2013

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are being used more and more in Oregon and across the United States, as a way to hold down the ever increasing cost of health care while providing quality patient care. NPs are registered nurses with clinical experience and advanced training (including a master’s degree) that can perform many traditional duties of a physician, including treating and diagnosing patients and prescribing medicine.

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

Some time, to the average hospital or clinic patient, nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs) can seem rather similar. They do perform the same tasks, tasks that have traditionally been reserved for physicians. However, NPs and PAs differ in one major way. Nurse practitioners are, first and foremost, nurses. Oregon and most other states require that an NP candidate to have a valid nursing license. Many NPs bring years of clinical nursing experience to their roles as NPs.

Conversely, most PAs enter the field with little or no clinical experience. Many enter practice directly from training programs.

Oregon: Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Nurse practitioners are an increasingly crucial part of the health care system in Oregon. If you are thinking about pursuing a career as an Oregon nurse practitioner, here is a little of what you need to know:

Number of NPs in Oregon: 2,548

NPs per 100,000 populations: 66

Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: The Oregon State Board of Nursing regulates and licenses nurse practitioners in the state of Oregon.

Do you need to be an RN? Yes

Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing to become a NP? Yes, a Master of Science in Nursing degree or similar is required to become an NP in Oregon.

Are there other requirements? Yes, in addition to holding a valid nursing license and having earned a Masters of Nursing degree, an NP candidate in Oregon must complete an NP training program specific to their specialty and meet board designated practice requirements.

How much does a Nurse Practitioner earn in Oregon? Nurse practitioners in Oregon make an average salary of $87,000 annually (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:

Yes, the Board of Nursing periodically updates its restrictions on prescribing controlled substances, such as Schedule II-V drugs. In addition, an NP in Oregon cannot prescribe narcotics to treat an addiction to narcotics and is prohibited from prescribing weight loss drugs.

Oregon: Nurse Practitioner Outlook

According to Community Catalyst, a health care advocacy group, Oregon is one of just sixteen states plus the District of Columbia that hit the mark in holding down the cost of health care. They credit Oregon’s extensive use of NPs as one factor in the state’s keeping patient health costs in check while still providing quality care.

What is the outlook for NPs in Oregon?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of all nursing jobs throughout the United States is expected to grow by around twenty-six percent over the next eight years. With Oregon’s head start in using NPs in the health care system plus the aging U.S. population and national mandate for health care reform, the number of NPs in the Beaver state is likely to increase by at least that amount, if not more.

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