Nurse Practitioner Vs Registered Nurse: What Is the Difference?

If you are someone who is seriously considering a career in nursing, then the talk of NP and RN shouldn’t be new, and, even if it is, you can learn all about Nurse Practitioner Vs Registered Nurse in this article.

First off, it would be good that you are in the know of the diversity of paths you can pursue in nursing. In fact, it is true that all nurses whether it is a Nurse Practitioner Vs Registered Nurse have their different roles as we shall see this in this article, geared towards the geared well-being of patients.

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Despite all of this, we need to understand the uniqueness of each role. As similar as the goal of a registered nurse is to that of a nurse practitioner, you can’t just lump all of the responsibilities together. This is important for many reasons which we shall discuss at length in this article.

What do registered nurses do?

Amidst the many roles RN have to fill, these roles depend very much on where they work, the patient’s population, size of the team they work in. However the primary role of registered nurses is first to investigate the health of the patient, and based on this investigation, the registered nurse points us to the important needs before finally drawing up a treatment plan Rregistered nurses preoccupy themselves with include all of the following:

Taking record of the patient’s medical history

Designing, executing and assessing the treatment plan meant for a particular patient with the medical team.

Taking care of wounds by either cleaning or even bandage changing.

Helping the families of patients and the patients themselves to understand the treatment plans for injuries and illnesses. Closely supervising licensed nurses either practical or vocational nurses, nursing assistants and nursing students.

It is popularly believed that the only places RN work in are in hospitals or generally medical facilities, nothing can be further from the truth than this. Registered nurses can work in schools, the homes of patients, large workplaces or even in the military.

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Just so you know, registered nurses know quite a great deal on not just the medical industry, but also, technology used in hospitals. This is so that they can be able to perform the responsibilities already mentioned above which cut across educating the patients on their treatment plans to the administration of the drugs and medications.

What do nurse practitioners do?

There lies a good similarity between what registered nurses do and what nurse practitioners do. First, just like RN the roles of NP depend on some factors, which are different from those for registered nurses. Some of these factors are: position, location, facility and area of speciality.

Nonetheless, let us look at some more of the responsibilities of nurse practitioners.They are:

  • Collecting necessary information and samples from the patients.
  • Conducting routine and detailed medical examinations.
  • Prescribing medications and monitoring the response of the patients.
  • Ensuring certain diagnostic tests are done.
  • Supervising nurses and other members of staff.
  • Liaising with other health professionals in order to share medical knowledge, design treatment plans and of course make relevant diagnoses on patients.
  • It is also important that nurse practitioners are up-to-date with the ever-changing development in the field of health and medicine.
  • Nurse practitioners are also expected to be thorough in their approach to patient testing especially in the area of data whilst maintaining an empathetic and compassionate relationship with the patients.

Differences Between Nurse Practitioner Vs Registered Nurses

Whilst we can’t deny the fact that the roles of NP vs RN are all tailored to the maintenance of good health in patients, the differences between NP and RN are as clear as night and day.

Roles and Responsibilities

You must have noticed that in both the roles of NP and RN observing and evaluating patients were listed, the truth, however, is that only nurse practitioners just like doctors can prescribe drugs, order tests and even conduct diagnosis on patients. This is what separates the typical registered nurse from nurse practitioner.

In plain terms, the wider base of knowledge that nurse practitioners have is the reason their responsibilities are not only many, but also, independent of the doctors unlike registered nurses who have to take orders from doctors many of the times.

Training and Education

Another very clear difference between NP and RN lie in their education. To become a registered nurse would demand that you write licensure examinations such as NCLEX and pass them. It varies from state to state, which kind of degrees you need to have to be eligible to write these exams.

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Some would require you to have a Bachelor’s degree which is quite popular these days. For nurse practitioners, their case is rather different. Asides passing the licensure examinations of registered nurses, becoming a nurse practitioner demands that you have master degrees in nursing (MSN) and also complete more clinical hours alongside.

Salary and Job Outlook

At this juncture, you would be wondering if both the salaries of NP vs RN are alike in any respect, and if they are any different, how wide are the salaries. Amazingly, both salaries are very good offers. A study revealed that the median annual salary for registered nurses was around $74,000 and for that of nurse practitioners, it was pegged at $115,800.

Generally, these salaries all depend on the setting of their workplaces, geographic location and of course, education levels.


It is important that you understand that starting out as a registered nurse isn’t much of a bad idea, in fact you can’t become a nurse practitioner without first climbing the rungs of a registered nurse.

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However, what most people do is take and pass their licensure examinations to become a registered nurse, wait a while and once they are decided go all out to advance their education. The choice is all up to you. Would you prefer to go full stretch till you become a nurse practitioner or would you take a break before returning to school to take advanced classes?

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