Nurse practitioners are important aspects of the modern health care system. They are nurses with advanced degrees who provide a high level of care for their patients through diagnosis, treatment, and prescribing medication when needed. Nurse practitioners begin their careers as a registered nurse who then returns to school, usually after receiving several years of experience, and receive an advanced degree that prepares them for the additional responsibilities of a nurse practitioner.
Nurse practitioners vs. physician assistants: What’s the difference?
It is easy to see why some people may confuse the roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. After all, they are able to work in many of the same environments, from hospitals to private practices in settings ranging from urban to rural. They are both able to work one on one with patients to diagnosis, treat, and prescribe medication as needed. There are, however, differences between the two.
Nurse practitioners are medical professionals returning to school. They have already received their license as registered nurses, and they are already working within the medical field. In fact, nurse practitioners have an average of ten years of experience before they enter their graduate degree programs. They are attending schools as medical professionals. Once they finish their degree, they are able to take a licensing exam to begin their new careers. Once licensed, the degree of autonomy the nurse practitioners have is dependent upon their state. Some states allow nurse practitioners to treat patients independently; others require a physician’s supervision for diagnosis and prescription of medication.
A physician assistant progresses into a graduate level program without having a prior license or experience. The program will also entail a great deal of emphasis upon clinical hours and classroom hours. They can specialize in a variety of medical fields, including primary care, surgical care, or pediatrics. Once they have finished the program, they must also take a licensing exam to become certified to work. With a license, they are required to work in a practice that has a physician as the head, although some places allow for loopholes that enable this relationship to be remote. For example, one physician assistant runs a practice virtually independently with communication with a doctor via internet and phone.
Wyoming: Nurse Practitioners at a glance
Number of NPs: 423
NPs per 100,000 populations: approximately 75
Who governs/grants licenses to NPs? Wyoming Board of Nursing
Do you need to be an RN? Yes
Do you need a Master of Science Nursing to become a NP? Masters must be in nursing or an advanced practice registered nurse specialty
Are there other requirements? Must be granted recognition by the board
How much does a Nurse Practitioner earn in Wyoming? $99,000 (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? Authority to prescribe controlled substances includes Schedule II-V
Wyoming Nurse Practitioner Outlook
As politicians and health care providers look for ways to control rising health care topics, one popular proposal has been to find a way to expand primary health care. Primary health care has been shown to help control health care costs by helping people remain in good health and help catch any problems as they arise. Since there has been national shortage of primary care physicians, there have been some who have proposed that nurse practitioners may be able to help fill the role. Those against this proposal say that since nurse practitioners do not receive the level of training of a physician, this could result in lower quality care. Studies have not shown this to be true, but the objection is noted.
A Wyoming nurse practitioner is offered a high salary and a good amount of independence compared to other states. This creates a perfect opportunity for the career field to grow. Nurse practitioners are able to help bring care services to a wide variety of people. The friendliness of the state is reflected in the high number of nurse practitioners compared to the 100,000 populations. It is likely that the field will continue to grow.
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