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The Employment Situation for Nurse Practitioners in Washington

Career News September 19, 2013

In January of 2014, more people became insured than ever before, increasing the demand for healthcare significantly. Consequently, the demand for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) has risen steadily and is expected to rise a startling 22 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Striving to meet the demands for quality health care, Washington places no limitations on the nurse practitioner’s right to practice medicine or prescribe medication and is a full-practice state. Lobbyists are struggling to create more full practice states like Washington to allow NPs to ease the demand for doctors. Currently, only fifteen other states allow such full-practice authority, so being a NP in Washington certainly has its advantages. NPs in Washington can avoid a lot of the exhausting red tape of acquiring permission for prescriptions and procedures that restricted states require.

The Nurse Practitioner in Washington

Nurse practitioners in Washington state practice in varied settings, including drug treatment centers, hospitals, emergency rooms, family medicine practices, geriatric-care settings, health clinics, women’s clinics, pediatric clinics and more. They specialize in all kinds of areas including oncology, neonatal medicine, gerontology, women’s health, mental health, pediatrics and adult primary care.

Requirements for the Nurse Practitioner in Washington

To become an NP in Washington, the nurse must apply to a graduate program within one year after graduation with their registered nurse (RN) degree or one year after obtaining the RN license. This program must be accredited by the United States Department of Education or the Council of Higher Education Accreditation. Ultimately, this graduate program must meet the requirements of the State Board of Nursing in Washington. The nurse must be certified in a specialty: Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

There is also separate course training to achieve licensure in HIV/AIDS training that is required by Washington. This classroom or web-based training must be a program that is approved by the Washington State Department of Health.

Prescriptive Authority

Nurse practitioners in Washington have full prescriptive authority only once they become licensed. This licensure is elective, but most nurses want to become certified to prescribe for obvious reasons. If you choose to obtain this authority when you complete your A.P.R.N. program, you must take an additional 30 hours of education in pharmacotherapeutics specific to your specialty and this training must be completed within two years. These courses can be taken while you’re in the graduate program or as continuing education later.


In short, nurse practitioners in Washington have almost as much freedom to practice medicine as a doctor as long as they are properly educated. More than anything, Washington prefers the educated, informed NPs, and recognizes the definite need for them right now in medical practice.

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