Registered Nurse Versus Nurse Practitioner: Which is Right for You?

March 25, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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If you are interested in a medical career, but the arduous journey to become a physician may be more than you are ready to endure, you should consider a career as either a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner.  Despite their similar titles, each career path has its own specific training, responsibilities, and salary structures. Both will allow you the opportunity to interact with patients on a daily basis. Let’s look at the similarities and differences between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner so that you can make an informed choice about your future medical career.

Education and Training of Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

If you are seeking a career as either a registered nurse or nurse practitioner, you’ll find that there is much in common between the two paths with respect to education and training. The minimum education requirement to become a registered nurse is obtaining an Associate Degree in Nursing from an accredited post-secondary school.  Your local community college is often an ideal place to earn this degree.  Most registered nurses have obtained their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This degree opens more career opportunities than an Associate Degree.  To practice as a Registered Nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). 

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner is actually a logic career step beyond your designation as a Registered Nurse.  Nurse Practitioners have earned their BSN degrees and have practiced as Registered Nurses for at least a year.  As an aspiring Nurse Practitioner, you’ll pursue a Working in the outpatient departmentMaster of Science in Nursing degree in an accredited graduate school program. To practice as a Nurse Practitioner, you must pass the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Exam.  Your education doesn’t stop there, however; you’ll need to recertify every five years to reflect continued professional development and education.

Duties and Responsibilities of Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

As a Registered Nurse, your primary responsibilities revolve around preparing a patient to see the doctor. You’ll take a patient’s medical history and perform preliminary medical screening of vital signs. You’ll need to be well versed in the effective use of medical equipment and devices. At times, you will also interpret diagnostic tests and administer medications. As a part of a patient’s medical team, you will often find yourself as a patient’s first line of contact. Be prepared to listen and learn about your patient’s symptoms and physical concerns.

As a Nurse Practitioner, you will have more responsibilities and duties to which to attend. In particular, you will have the ability to prescribe medications and create comprehensive treatment plans for patients. Your training, education, and experience will allow you the opportunity to set up a private practice as well.

Salaries and Career Outlook of Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

If you decide to become a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner, you’ll be pleased to know that both career paths are in high demand. Registered nurses earn an average salary of $65,000 annually, while nurse practitioners bring home up to $90,000 each year.  Remember that your career path in nursing has multiple avenues and is only limited by your motivation. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.