Nurse practitioners provide acute and long-term healthcare nationwide. While it is required, for nurse practitioners, to hold an RN license in all 50 states, other regulations, such as board certification and prescribing authority, vary by each state’s scope-of-practice laws.
According to The Nurse Practitioner’s 24th Annual Legislative Update, 24 states require nurse practitioners maintaining an established relationship with a collaborating or supervising physician while the remaining 26 states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow nurse practitioners to practice independently.
Education requirements are state specific, with entry-level positions requiring completion of a two-year graduate program, in addition, to a four-year nursing program; many states require a nurse practitioner to hold a master’s level degree, such as a Master of Science Nursing.
Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: What’s the Difference
There are several main educational and career characteristics that will help an individual differentiate between a Physician’s Assistant (PA) and a Nurse Practitioner (NP).
A nurse practitioner is the graduate of a nursing program who has spent time in a healthcare setting, before pursuing a graduate degree as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). A nurse practitioner diagnoses, treats and educates patients, while focusing on healthcare needs in the long-term, from counseling patients with acute or chronic illness to advising healthy patients in areas of health maintenance and disease prevention.
A physician’s assistant must attain a bachelor’s degree and complete an accredited educational program for physician assistants–most earn a master’s degree. Once in the medical setting, a physician’s assistant provides more technical care than a nurse practitioner. The typical day of a PA may include setting bones, interpreting lab work, and charting patient records.
Illinois: Nurse Practitioners at-a-glance
Number of NPs: 4,457
NPs per 100,000 populations: 35
Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: The Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation governs nursing regulations and grants licenses to NPs in Illinois.
Do you need to be an RN?
Yes, an Illinois nurse practitioner must hold current registered nurse licensure.
Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing to become a NP?
Yes, you must have “successfully completed a post-basic advanced practice formal education program in the area of his or her nursing specialty,” according to the Division of Professional Regulation.
Are there other requirements?
Yes, you must have certification from one of the national certification organizations.
How much can a Nurse Practitioner earn in Illinois?
$97,000 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?
Yes. Under the collaborative practice agreements in Illinois, physicians must be on-site at least once per month to coordinate care protocols with the NP and must also be available for telecommunication consultation in cases of medical necessity.
Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication? Yes
Is there some drug classifications NPs cannot prescribed?
NPs may only prescribe controlled substances if they hold an Illinois Mid-level Practitioner Controlled Substance License; additionally, this prescription authority must be written into the physician’s collaboration agreement.
Illinois: Nurse Practitioner Outlook
The Illinois Center for Nursing says that the supply of RNs in Illinois will not meet the demand by 2018, as the increase in open positions climbs each year.
Although there is a national shortage of primary care physicians, NPs nationwide will continue to see an increased demand to fill a deep void in the medical community. An increase in the aging population will contribute to the need for NPs.
According to the Medicaid Report Card available on Community Catalyst, Illinois does not meet expectations in regard to the use of NPs in the primary care setting. Changing mandates in regard to the way an Illinois nurse practitioner is regulated may lessen the demands on physicians and improve the quality of patient care.