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Pennsylvania: Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Career News September 19, 2013

Nurse practitioners are becoming an increasingly visible and vital part of the Pennsylvania health care system. These so-called mid-level health care providers are registered nurses with advanced degrees and clinical training, who are able to perform many of the functions traditionally reserved for physicians.

This not only lowers the cost of health care, but because NPs are available hours that most physicians are not, gives patients a better level of care.

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

To the average hospital patient, a nurse practitioner and a physician’s assistant (PA) may look rather similar. They do perform a lot of the same health care functions, many of which are traditionally reserved for physicians. However, there is a major difference between the two professions.

In order to become a Pennsylvania nurse practitioner, you must first be trained and practice as a registered nurse. In fact, the average NP has at least ten years experience as an RN before beginning training as an NP. In contrast, most PAs begin work as a PA directly out of school. The level of experience and insight an NP’s RN training brings is difficult, if not impossible, to get from a textbook.

Pennsylvania: Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Nurse practitioners are a vital part of the Keystone State health care system. If you are considering a registered nurse considering a career as a nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania, here is a little of what you need to know:

Number of NPs in Pennsylvania: 7,545

NPs per 100,000 populations: 59

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

Do you need to be an RN? Yes

Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing to become a NP? Yes

Are there other requirements?

To work as an NP in Pennsylvania, you must have a current nursing license and a Master of Science nursing degree or similar. In addition, NPs in Pennsylvania must successfully complete at least one year in a nursing course of study at a school or institution approved by the Board of Nursing, exhibit competence in medical diagnosis and therapeutics at the time of licensing or renewal, and complete 30 hours of continuing education annually.

In addition to the requirements outlined above, a Pennsylvania nurse practitioner must complete the following to be able to prescribe medication: successful completion of a CRNP program approved by the Board of Nursing, have 45 hours of advanced pharmacology, complete 16 hours of continuing pharmacology education in the two years prior to renewal or certification, and adhere to the standards of the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine.

How much can a Nurse Practitioner earn in Pennsylvania?

Nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania make an average salary of $82,000 (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

Is there some drug classifications NPs cannot prescribed? If so, provide details: No

Pennsylvania: Nurse Practitioner Outlook

According to Community Catalyst, an advocate group for health care reform, Pennsylvania misses the mark in promoting health care reform. They feel this is, in part, because the state fails to promote the use of nurse practitioners as a lower cost alternative to physicians. Although Pennsylvania is more liberal than many states in the freedom it allows NPs to diagnose and treat patients, there are still relatively few NPs in the Keystone State.

The nurse practitioner profession in Pennsylvania has much room for growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of nursing jobs, in general, is expected to grow by approximately 26 percent over the next eight years. As the US population ages and NPs gain more widespread acceptance, the number of NP positions is all but certain to grow at least this rapidly.

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