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California: Nurse Practitioner Requirements and Regulation

Career News September 14, 2013


A California nurse practitioner is far more than just a basic care position in the hospital or medical setting. The practitioner is responsible for the independent treatment and examination of patient, then taking that information to other professionals to coordinate the ongoing care. This work can involve dealing with acute injuries, general illness, disease prevention, identification of problems, and ongoing patient recovery.

To be allowed to do all this work in California, the nurse practitioner needs to have completed a master’s degree in terms of medical education, and be certified and licensed with the California Board of Registered Nursing as a certified registered nurse practitioner.

The Board is a subset agency of the CA Department of Consumer Affairs. Once authorized by the state and hired, a nurse practitioner can frequently expect to be placed in charge of a clinical unit or medical office, as the sitting manager or department head.

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

In California, the nurse practitioner uses a general nursing medical education and licensing to cover a variety of conditions and illnesses, in terms of patient treatment and care. The practitioner often works as part of a professional medical team when providing such a response. However, practitioners are frequently used for treatment and care, outside the acute medical response, provided by a licensed physician. This can include maintenance, prevention, ongoing chronic illness care, and patient education.

The physician’s assistant functions as a direct, third hand for the physician in providing diagnosis, therapy, and preventative procedures and care. Assistants often provide much of the hands-on work the physician needs for the patient’s immediate care, including x-ray work and lab test examinations. Physician assistants are often placed in the role of ensuring therapy is followed, as well as managing the doctor’s office.

California: Nurse Practitioners At-a-Glance

Number of NPs: 17,032

NPs per 100,000 populations: 45

Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: The CA Board of Registered Nursing

Do you need to be an RN? Yes

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

Yes, specifically a Master’s Degree in Nursing (this is also known as a Master Science of Nursing).

Are there other requirements?

Yes, a License with the CA Board of Registered Nursing.

How much can a Nurse Practitioner earn in California?

$106,000 (this is a varying average per (Actual salaries range by geographical location).

According to other sources, the pay range is closer to $30,000 to $60,000.

Do NPs need a physician’s supervision for diagnosis and treatment? Yes

Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication? Yes

Is there some drug classifications NPs cannot prescribed?

Yes. In California, practitioners cannot prescribe Schedule I narcotics.

California: Nurse Practitioner Outlook

There is no shortage expected for a need of nurse practitioners in California. With healthcare, now being demanded by the aging Baby Boomer generation, the demand for trained nursing help is even acuter.

Independent organizations have already released reports noting California needs to utilize nurse practitioners in far greater numbers to boost medical productivity and bring down care costs, particularly in the area of primary care.

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