Nurse practitioners have been working in the healthcare industry since the mid-1960s, according to Mayo School of Health Sciences. The role came out of the need for physicians during that era. The definition and standards vary by state, but most require a nurse practitioner to have at least a Master of Science Nursing degree or higher.
Once a nurse completes the educational requirements of the state, candidates go through an approval process for licensing. Each has its own certification standards for employment. Anyone looking to start a career in this challenging nursing field can expect to complete a graduate program and get accreditation from the state.
Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: What’s the Difference
Individuals investigating different healthcare roles might easily confuse a Nurse Practitioner with a Physician Assistant even though they are two distinctive paths. A nurse practitioner is a nurse with an advanced degree. The combination of a nursing degree, advanced education and clinical training leads to eligibility to work as a practitioner. They have the ability to diagnose and manage illnesses in a private practice or as part of a healthcare team.
Candidates training as a physician assistant require no previous healthcare education, but a nurse practitioner must already have a bachelor degree in nursing science before beginning the advanced education program.
A PA trains to provide diagnostic, therapeutic and wellness care overseen by a medical doctor. They work as a team of professionals, to examine patients, take medical histories, order tests and make diagnoses. A PA can do some minor procedures, as well.
Nebraska: Nurse Practitioners at-a-glance
Number of NPs: 1,016
NPs per 100,000 populations: 55
Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: Nebraska Board of Nursing
Do you need to be an RN? Yes
Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing to become a NP?
No, nurse practitioner licensing is possible with a bachelor degree. However, a NP who prescribes medication must have a master’s or doctorate.
Are there other requirements?
Yes, a non-prescribing NP must complete an advanced practice registered nurse program, 30 contact hours of education in pharmacotherapeutics and pass a board exam.
To prescribe medication, the NP must also take course work in pharmocotherapeutics, advanced health assessment and pathopsycology plus complete 2000 training hours under the supervision of a physician.
How much can a Nurse Practitioner earn in Nebraska?
$77,000 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, the prescribing NP practice must integrate with a collaborating physician’s practice. The nurse practitioner must show proof of Professional liability insurance.
Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication?
No, but only NPs who meet specified qualifications can prescribe medication
Nebraska: Nurse Practitioner Outlook
According to Community Catalyst, a national advocacy group for health care reform, Nebraska misses the mark in providing improving patient care because it does not allow nurse practitioners to “diagnose and prescribe without mandated physician oversight.”
With the changes coming to the healthcare industry with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national role for nurse practitioners is likely to change, as well. In 2011, the White House opted to remove some restrictions, placed on professionals in this field, to help relieve likely shortages of physicians. This means the Nebraska nurse practitioner will probably be a key in expanding primary care to provide immediate support.
Nebraska is a state with large rural areas. The role of the nurse practitioner will be vital in these regions if there is a shortage of doctors. Community Catalyst notes that a nurse practitioner is more likely to cover these less populated areas than a physician. Expanding the scope of practice has the potential to improve healthcare service to areas that currently have scarce medical practices. Extending their service will also make primary and wellness care more affordable in these rural districts.
An analysis of other states systems shows that a NP office visit is 35 percent less expensive than seeing a doctor. The same need that created this advanced nursing program in the first place improves its outlook today.