Primary Care Nursing

Primary Care Nurse

How to Become a Primary Care Nurse

Becoming a nurse is in many ways like being a middle-man, a liaison between the hard science that is the essence of the doctor’s profession and the human element inherent in dealing with patients. A nurse practitioner, who is becoming an increasingly prominent site in many primary physicians’ offices, is often the first person to come in contact with a patient when he enters the doctor’s office, and sometimes is also the last face. Good nurses are aware that every patient they meet on a given day is there for something abnormal, something which may be painful or worrisome, and can manage to put a patient’s heart at ease, even if only by the smallest of margins. They can do this by having both a good bedside manner and by possessing a professional competency which is unsurpassed in the medical profession. But what does it take to be a nurse practitioner, and what can someone expect once he or she becomes one?

What A Nurse Practitioner Is

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has continued his or her education through at least the Master’s level, learning within the overall medical philosophy of individualized care, which is a major reason they are found so often (though not exclusively) in primary care practices. A nurse practitioner is trained to place high priority on preventative medicine and the education of patients.

Once a person earns a Master of Science with Nurse Practitioner Concentration, the next step is gaining certification. This certification is earned by completing the above requirements and then proceeding to take and pass the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners exam (AANP), or the American Nurses Credentialing Center exam (ANCC). The ANCC is a test given to those who would like to specialize in a certain field within the ‘nurse practitioner’ moniker. These possible specialties are advanced diabetes management, acute care, school nursing, mental health family care, and pediatrics.


Nurse practitioners have vastly different responsibilities than other people in the nursing profession. There are two main differences, though, one leading to the other. As opposed to RNs or LPNs, NPs can work individually in his or her own practice, a fact which leads to the other main difference between the responsibilities of an RN and NP. An NP can prescribe medications to patients and therefore must keep abreast of the latest medical information and innovation so as to best serve the patient.

Daily duties are difficult to generalize, as there are many specializations within the nurse practitioner field, and then each hospital, primary care practice, HMO, etc., finds its own unique way of applying the skills of an NP to the needs of the hospital. However, there are some responsibilities which are fairly common to the field. An NP can expect to diagnose ailments, and subsequently treat that illness or injury. They have also earned, through virtue of their nursing education, the ability to perform physicals and immunizations. As a result of their education in individualized health care, they will also often counsel their patients on how to take better care of themselves.


A nurse practitioner specializes in one of many different fields of medicine, and this specialization usually determines the kinds of hours the professional can expect to work. For example, a family care nurse practitioner may work only the hours during which the family practice is open. However, if the family care practice is part of a larger hospital, additional hours may be required. If, on the other hand, the nurse practitioner chooses to specialize in emergency care, hours may include holidays, weekends, nights, overnights, and on-call days. The amount and type of hours one wishes to spend working should be considered, as they can be quite demanding, often for higher pay.


Because there are so many specializations within the nurse practitioner field, it is difficult to determine the salary of someone who may work as one. When all the statistics are compiled, with some of the NPs in high paying specializations (Acute Care, Primary Care, Correctional Institution) making well over 100,000 dollars and the low end of the spectrum (Family Practice, Psychiatry) barely clearing 60,000 dollars, the median works out to be approximately a 90,000 dollar salary for a nurse practitioner. This is among the highest paid nursing professions.


Nurse practitioners are increasingly taking on the responsibilities of primary care doctors, as there is currently a shortage of primary care physicians. Nurse practitioners are well paid and career opportunities abound. Becoming a nurse practitioner may be one of the best decisions a nurse could ever make.

Stay Informed
More Career Resources
Parish Nursing
Parish Nursing

What is Parish Nursing? Parish nurses provide pastoral nursing, not hands-on care. They are registered nurses who provide education, counseling, referral, advocacy and volunteer coordination.

Read More »
Urologic Nursing
Urology Nursing

What is Urologic Nursing? Urologic nursing is the specialization that focuses on caring for patients with urologic disorders and diseases. According to The Urologic Nursing

Read More »
Respiratory Nursing
Respiratory Nursing

What is Respiratory Nursing? As of 2018, the U.S. Department of Health estimates that approximately 225,000 people die every year of some kind of respiratory

Read More »
Medical Assisting
Medical Assistant

What are Some Medical Assistant Duties? The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) states that while the duties of medical assistants vary by employer,

Read More »
IV Therapy
Intravenous Therapy Nursing

What Is Intravenous Therapy Nursing? Intravenous therapy nurses, also known as infusion nurses, provide intravenous therapy to patients using an IV. Intravenous therapy can be

Read More »
Perioperative Nursing
Perioperative Nursing

What is Perioperative Nursing? Perioperative nurses are sometimes referred to as surgical or operating room nurses. According to Johnson & Johnson , these nurses work

Read More »