A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with extra schooling and opportunities to provide health care, diagnose, and treat patients. There are different levels of nursing and they all have different amounts of schooling and opportunities for providing care. First you have a licensed practical nurse (LPN), second a registered nurse (RN) and third a nurse practitioner (APRN) and now a Doctor of nursing practice (DNP). I will discuss the schooling and the privileges of each of these nurses.
First Level – Licensed Practical Nurse
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) has the following job duties. They can care for patients basic needs with their normal daily activities such as bathing and dressing, and they can take vital signs. They can also obtain medical histories, draw blood, give injections and discuss health care with patients. There are other things they can do, it just depends on the facility they work in. They also report patient status to a registered nurse or a doctor. To obtain a degree as an LPN it will require one year of schooling. The classes will be in nursing, biology, pharmacology and supervise clinical experience. Many LPN’s work in Doctor’s offices or clinics and they help with patient flow and obtaining histories.
Second Level – Registered Nurse
A registered nurse (RN) has the ability to perform all of the duties of an LPN and they can also do many other things. They can administer oral and intravenous medication according to a medication administration record. They can administer treatments, perform diagnostic tests, coordinate care plans, and analyze results. They also instruct patients on illness management and they oversee the work of medical assistants, nursing aides, and LPN’s. Most RN’s work in hospitals and they can help assist doctors with minor procedures. RN’s have at least 2 years of schooling and some have 4. The privileges between the two are not any different. The 4 years of schooling lets you have the opportunity to work in management positions and to further your education and get a master’s degree.
Third Level – Nurse Practitioner
A nurse practitioner (APRN) can perform any of the things that an LPN or RN can do and they have many other responsibilities. A nurse practitioner can work side by side with a doctor and help them with seeing patients. They can perform physical exams and diagnosis and treat patients. They can prescribe medications, and perform many procedures on their own with some minimal supervision. A nurse practitioner can have their own office and see, diagnosis and treat patients. To become a nurse practitioner you need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then get accepted into a program for nurse practitioner’s. There are many specialities you can go into as a nurse practitioner. These range from pediatrics, geriatrics, and family practice to acute care, women’s health and mental health practitioners.
In the past 10 years or so the nursing community has developed a Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree and they have an additional 2 years of schooling beyond the master’s prepared APRN. The rights and privileges are the same for the APRN and the DNP.
The differences between the levels of nursing depend on how much schooling you have and the privileges you get after obtaining the appropriate degree. It will take more schooling to have increased privileges and opportunities for growth and advancement.