A Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse who has additional training or education in a specialty, such as pediatrics or obstetrics. All 50 states allow Nurse Practitioners to practice in their states. Of these, 18 and the District of Columbia allow Nurse Practitioners to work independently of another provider, according to Health Affairs, while the other states require these professionals to work alongside a doctor or similar health care provider. The general requirements, although these vary from state to state, are for Nurse Practitioners to have a graduate degree in nursing and certification by an accrediting body recognized in that state.
Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: What’s the Difference
A Nurse Practitioner and a physician assistant fulfill similar roles in the healthcare field, and for this reason, they can be confused by the general public. However, there are some distinct differences between the two.
A Nurse Practitioner is required to have experience as a nurse. These professionals are Registered Nurses with further education beyond the RN degree. In most cases, this means they have a master’s degree. They must also have clinical experience in their field. This allows them to diagnose and treat most minor illnesses without the oversight of another healthcare team member.
Physician Assistants also have advanced training, but they may not have specific clinical training. They are trained in providing preventative healthcare, diagnostic services and therapeutic services as part of a healthcare team. They are not nurses, but they may be trained to take medical histories, interpret lab and x-ray results, diagnose and treat minor illnesses and even examine patients under certain circumstances, but they always work with a trained medical provider.
Wisconsin: Nurse Practitioners At-a-Glance
Number of NPs: 3,631
NPs per 100,000 populations: 64
Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: Wisconsin Board of Nursing
Do you need to be an RN? Yes
Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing degree to become a NP? Yes, all applicants for the Wisconsin nurse practitioner license who are certified after July 1, 1998 must have a Master of Science in Nursing degree or a related health field from an accredited college or university.
Are there other requirements? Yes, you must have certification from a national certifying body approved by the state board.
How much does a Nurse Practitioner earn in Wisconsin? $76,000 (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? Yes, according to the WisTREC Utilization Committee, NPs must practice within a collaborative relationship with a healthcare team, including general supervision of a physician. This does not mean on-site physician supervision is required, but rather regular coordination, direction and inspection of the NPs practice.
Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication? No
Are there some drug classifications NPs cannot prescribe? No, NPs in Wisconsin can prescribe any required medications in their areas of competence as established by their training, experience and education.
Wisconsin: Nurse Practitioners Outlook
Community Catalyst, a national advocacy group for health care reform, Wisconsin could be doing a better job of using Nurse Practitioners to improve patient care in the state. Because the state requires mandated physician oversight, it limits the abilities of Nurse Practitioners to do their job to the best of their ability. According to the Community Catalyst report, the more autonomy NPs have, the greater the consumer’s access to primary care and the more freedom physicians will have for dealing with complex cases. Eliminating the oversight requirement would improve access to healthcare throughout the state.