Nurse Practitioner and Registered Nurse are similar in a way that both provide direct care to the patients.
However, there are significant differences in their educations and their scope of practice.
Let’s go briefly through requirements for each of these professions.
Registered Nurse (RN)
A registered nurse is a healthcare worker who has at least an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
After the ADN or BSN program competition, an aspiring RN needs to pass the NCLEX-RN – National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses.
Typically, RNs don’t have a specialization, but they can earn additional knowledge in specific areas through experience.
Therefore, they can move between different departments such as ER, critical care, med/Surg, etc.
The majority of RNs work in hospitals or acute care facilities.
But they are also present in clinics, physician’s offices, home care agencies, skilled nursing facilities, community services, and insurance agencies.
They practice under the MD directions, or under NP or PA supervision.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
To become a Nurse practitioner, one needs to complete at least an MSN program.
MSN programs have different specialties, including geriatrics, primary care, psychiatric, maternal-child health, etc.
Aspiring NP needs to choose a specialization track to complete the program.
After program completion, NP needs to past the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certificate Exam.
Usually, RNs who take a step forward in their career and earn enough experience enroll in NP programs.
Nurse practitioners are considered experts in specific areas.
They can see their own patients, diagnose, provide treatment and in some states, prescribe the medications.
Their scope of practice is different across the states.
In some states, MD needs to sign all NP orders, and in other NPs enjoy greater autonomy of practice.
NPs usually work in a clinic setting, but they can be found in similar settings such as RNs.
NPs earn more money than Registered nurses, and the expected salary is between $15.000 and $40.000 higher than the salary of a registered nurse.