Career Profile:


Nurse Practitioners (APN) and registered nurses (RNs) assist patients, families, and communities in achieving, keeping, and recovering optimal health, educating patients, and delivering treatment.
As a nurse, you provide health care services to patients and their families and use your skill and experience to restore health and prevent illness. As a registered nurse, you advocate for those within the health care delivery system. You educate, care, counsel, nurture and restore stability to a patient. Your key responsibilities are to assess a patient’s needs, deliver prescribed medication, diagnose a problem or the need for further diagnoses, plan care or intervention, implement interventions and evaluate success. For example, if a patient has shortness of breath after treatment, you will create a regimen such as walking each day or teaching breathing techniques to a patient. You also alert treating physicians as to changes in patient status.
As an advanced nurse practitioner, you may provide primary care or specialize in geriatrics, oncology, family practice, mental health, or another specialist area. Your certification could be to practice in a specific field such as oncology. Your responsibilities include patient education and counseling, treatment and diagnosis, monitoring chronic conditions, taking medical histories, performing physicals. Advanced practice nurses also prescribe medication. Unlike physician’s assistants, advanced nurse practitioners are not required to have a supervising physician to practice in most circumstances.


Where You Work

All communities and health care facilities need nurses. You typically work in a hospital or clinic, private practice, nursing home or with outpatients. Every state offers and requires licensure for nurses. For nurse practitioners, licensure enables you to prescribe medicine, and to have your own practice. 
As a registered nurse, you can specialize in certain work settings or types of treatments. You may also work with specific health conditions, such as diabetes management and oncology. You can also choose to combine specialties. For example, as an oncology treatment nurse, you work in treatment suites to deliver intravenous chemotherapy, supportive medications, fluids, and blood transfusions.


How You Help

Depending on your specialty, you help patients at all stages of life and with a wide range of cancer-related and treatment-related conditions, from preventive health care to curative treatment to symptom or side effect management to end of life care. You play a direct role in treating patients. As a nurse practitioner, you administer drugs and assist the doctor in caring for the patient, working closely with doctors at the forefront of patient care. Nurse practitioners liaise between patient and physician to ensure that the patient understands the illness and course of care. As a nurse, you commonly interact with patients on a daily basis and help them with symptom management. You interpret a doctor’s recommendations into terms a patient can understand.

Helpful High School Courses

  • Health
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology and/or sociology
  • Foreign language

Skills to Build

  • Good communication skills to interact daily with wide range of patients
  • Time management and organization skills
  • Ability to listen and to explain clearly to a patient
  • Comfortable around blood and other bodily fluids
  • Speaking a foreign language, such as Spanish


  • Helping and directly caring for patients on a daily basis
  • Significant research and education opportunities
  • Strong job market
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Hands-on, daily patient interaction
  • Satisfaction from helping others


  • Can be emotionally draining, patients may be anxious, hostile, or depressed
  • Deal with bodily fluids and unpleasant situations, such as severe injury and death
  • May need to work off shifts, weekends, and holidays

Education You Need

To become a registered nurse, you can take one of three routes: a bachelor’s degree in science, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma program.
To become a nurse practitioner, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a science and a master’s degree in nursing. Generally it takes six years after high school to become a nurse practitioner.  Nurses at all levels must apply for licensure.


A Day in the Life of a Nurse Practitioner

  • 7:30
    Review patient files before clinic
  • 8:30
    Meet with patient in clinic. Perform a general check-up
  • 9:00
    Prescribe and administer treatment drugs. Order diagnostic tests
  • 11:00
    Meet with new patient. Review medical history and explain recent diagnosis
  • 2:30
    Travel to different site to supervise data collection
  • 3:00
    File and organize patient records
  • 3:30
    Discuss health of patients with collaborating physician
  • 4:00
    Prepare medical records for tomorrow’s clinic
  • 5:00
    Contact people to conduct a survey about fitness

A Day in the Life of a Registered Nurse

  • 6:45
    Getting reports from the night shift
  • 7:15
    Making rounds and assessing patients
  • 8:30
    Medication administration and procedures, complete care-related documentation
  • 9:00
    Contact physician with technician report of patient having fever
  • 10:00
    Ensure blood and urine cultures done and sent to lab
  • 11:30
    Assist patients with lunch
  • 1:00
    Contact treating physician of abnormal lab result needing action
  • 1:30
    Start intravenous antibiotics ordered based on discussion with doctor
  • 2:00
    Administer routine medications and document patient assessments
  • 2:45
    Change of shift report

Average Annual Salary Range

  • $65,470-$126,250*

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* Actual salary dependent on education, experience, location, and other variables