What Sets Apart a Registered Nurse From a Nurse Practitioner?

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, a nursing profession can be a good choice. A nursing career provides stable employment, competitive pay, and the incredible satisfaction of knowing that you have made a positive difference in the lives of your patients.

However, it is essential to note there are different specialties in the nursing field. Switching positions allows nurses to gain experience in different areas. Many nurses start as Registered Nurses (RNs) and then progress to Nurse Practitioners (NPS) as a gradual career development process.

Below, we explore the differences between a nurse practitioner and a registered nurse.

What are the roles of a registered nurse?

The job duties of registered nurses daily vary significantly depending on the place of work, their team size, and the demographic they serve, but one thing remains constant: no two days are ever the same.

The primary responsibility of a registered nurse is to assess patients, determine their urgent requirements, and execute a medical plan. As a result, RNs spend a lot of their time doing things like:

  • Observing and evaluating patients
  • Taking detailed notes on the patient’s medical history and symptoms
  • Administering and monitoring prescription meds, IVs, and many other treatments for adverse effects and responses;
  • Collaborating with the medical team to develop, execute, and evaluate patient care plans
  • Wound care like cleaning and replacing bandages
  • Drawing blood, urine samples, and other bodily fluids for lab tests
  • Explaining treatment and care plans for injuries, diseases, and illnesses to patients and their families.
  • Supervising nursing assistants, students, and licensed vocational nurses

What does a nurse practitioner do?

Nurse practitioners take on many of the same responsibilities as doctors. They examine patients, diagnose them, and develop treatment programs for them. Nurse practitioners also assist patients with chronic illnesses in managing their symptoms and making required modifications.

Additional responsibilities include:

  • Keeping accurate medical records and recording patient medical histories and symptoms to offer diagnoses
  • Collecting  information and samples from patients
  • Conducting routine and in-depth examinations
  • Observing patients and evaluating medical and test results
  • Creating personalized treatment programs and making referrals
  • Prescribing medicine to patients
  • Performing diagnostic tests and using medical equipment
  • Supervising nurses and other healthcare staff

Read more: Small Business Growth Strategies: 10 Surefire Ways to Rank Higher on Google

The differences between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner

Education requirements

One of the most significant distinctions between an RN and a nurse practitioner is the amount of training and education. To become a Nurse practitioner, one must complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP. In addition, nurse practitioners must complete 500 hours or more of clinical training.

To become a registered nurse, on the other hand, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution and pass the National Council Licensure Examination(NCLEX).


The wage difference between RN and NP is enormous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses earn an average of $82,750 per year, while nurse practitioners earn approximately $118,040 per year.

Nurse practitioners earn more than registered nurses since they have a higher level of education. In addition, a nurse practitioner’s responsibilities are also broader than those of a registered nurse. A registered nurse has far less freedom and responsibility than a nurse practitioner. In some regions, nurse practitioners operate independently and have their own practices.

Continuing education obligations

To keep their licenses, most nurses must complete continuing education units (CEUs). The nurse practitioner and registered nurse jobs are no exception. Continuing education requirements for registered nurses vary by state and speciality.

However, all nurse practitioners must complete continuing education units. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners requires them to renew their licensure every five years. Nurse practitioners must complete 1,000 clinical hours and 75 contact hours of CEU to renew their license.

Additionally, there are different certifications both of these professions have to acquire and renew occasionally, depending on where their work. For example, those working in emergency rooms and with children should have a PALS certification. Luckily, this type of certification is easy to get online.

Now that you understand the differences between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner, you can make a wise decision about which specialty you wish to pursue in your nursing career. Both professions have advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of the difference in salary, the nurse practitioner role comes with additional responsibilities and, in some cases, total independence.

More responsibilities can lead to burnout among nurses. As a result, the registered nursing position may appear less demanding. Some people, on the other hand, flourish in higher-level leadership positions.

By Bex
Bex is a technical and non-technical writer, he is into the content marketing industry since 2015 and also contributed to many top news sources in the world
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