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Understanding the role of a nurse practitioner

Last Modified: November 13, 2023

Family Medicine, People of Parkview


This post was written by Natasha Subramaniam, NP, PPG – Family Medicine and Primary Care.

Parkview currently has more than 120 nurse practitioners (NP) serving patients. In this post, I’ll offer an overview of what an NP does and the role we can play in your care journey.

What is a nurse practitioner?

NPs are considered advanced practicing registered nurses (APRNs). Each of our careers began in nursing roles. Some of us entered practice prepared with an associate degree (ASN), typically two years of training, and others entered with a bachelor's degree (BSN), typically four years of training.

In our nursing roles, we serve in areas such as clinics, emergency departments, surgical services, and intensive care units, among others. There are many specialty certifications nurses can obtain, specific to the specialty in which they work, ensuring that you have the best care team.

An APRN is a master's prepared nurse (MSN). They can serve in a multitude of roles including but not limited to leadership, public health, nurse practitioner and midwifery. Not all APRNs are NPs, but all NPs are APRNs. NPs may also pursue their doctorate (DNP), such as I have. This just means that they have pursued the highest level of education in the field of nursing. They may be recognized as doctors because of their educational preparation, but they have not been trained as medical doctors (MD/DO). At Parkview, NPs and Physician Assistants are referred to as Advanced Practicing Providers (APPs).

What training do nurse practitioners receive?

Training can occur in traditional on-site locations or online. All NPs are required to maintain clinical hours worked while pursuing their advanced degree. Clinicals are always in person and can be arranged by the nurse or the university providing educational training. Clinical hours are above and beyond worked hours and consist of learning clinical practice from practicing physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

If the provider is pursuing a DNP or PhD, there are additional clinical hours required during training, in addition to doctoral-level research. This likely consists of a written thesis and a dissertation of the research. Sometimes, universities require a formal presentation of a thesis via dissemination at a conference or publication.

Are NPs board-certified?

Yes, Indiana legislation mandates that NPs are board-certified. This means they have satisfied the educational preparation and clinical hours necessary for degree completion and have sat for and passed a rigorous examination that reflects they are safe to provide care.

What can my NP do?

In short, it depends on their practice setting. Midwives (CNM), psychiatric mental health NPs (PMHNP), and acute care NPs (ACNP) are considered APRNs with a different scope of practice from that of an FNP. For this discussion, we will focus on the role of the NP.

The role of the NP is a generalization, as there are different NP roles within the healthcare matrix, including:

  • Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) are trained and certified to provide care across the continuum of life (from birth to grave). They often work in Family Medicine, specialty clinics or walk-in settings.
  • Adult Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) are trained to care for those 13 years and up. They may work in the same settings as FNPs, but are not trained to provide care for anyone under 13 years.
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNP) are trained to take care of pediatric patients (birth to 18 or 21 years of age, based on practice setting). PNPs can specialize with PMHNP certification to meet pediatric mental health needs in those birth-18 or 21 years of age.
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNP) serve female patients of all ages.
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNP) provide care for those 21 years and up.

You may find various NPs in various roles, specialty clinics, and settings with both broad and more specialized population training. Regardless of the practice setting, NPs can collect the medical history, conduct a physical examination/review of systems, diagnose, treat and refer as needed. Indiana legislation currently prevents nurse practitioners from ordering diabetic shoes and referring patients to cardiac or pulmonary rehab. We work in collaboration with our physician colleagues in all settings to meet your needs and provide you with the highest quality care.

Nurse practitioners work for our patients by advocating, advancing education/ training, serving on the front lines, volunteering our time in community services, and promoting the health of our communities. I am proud to serve as an NP, alongside so many talented caregivers doing the same.

If you are searching for a new provider, you can start your search here by using our Find a Doctor portal online. You can also call our Access Center team for assistance any time, 24/7 at 877-PPG-TODAY or 877-774-8632.

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