external image resize?sq=160&uid=902313223 NURSE PRACTItiONERexternal image resize?sq=160&uid=902313223


Nursing provides a giant scope of opportunities and offers many different paths for any individual working in the health sector. One such opportunity is to become a nursing practitioner (NP). Nursing practitioners are registered nurses with an additional amount of university knowledge providing primary care to patients, and are considered midlevel providers(Wrong Diagnosis, 2009). The additional knowledge and education gained allows NPs to diagnose and treat clients, which sets them apart from a regular registered nurse.

The Role of the Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) is defined as a registered nurse with advanced university education who provides personalized, quality healthcare to patients (Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario, 2009). NP's focus on preventing disease, promoting good health and curing illness in a variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, community based-clinics, workplaces and long-term care homes (Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario, 2009). The Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario (NPAO) identifies the NP roles as follows:

  • diagnose and treat illnesses/injuries
  • perform physical check-ups
  • order and interpret diagnostic tests
  • write prescriptions
  • provide counseling and education
  • provide supportive care through illness
  • provide treatments and/or procedures
  • make referrals to family physicians, specialists and other healthcare professionals

There are four NP specialties provided in Ontario:
1) Primary Healthcare: work in community settings, and manage most common
illnesses, and provide preventative care and education for healthy living.
2) Adult and Pediactric: work as part of a healthcare team in hospitals and healthcare agencies
3) Anesthesia: this role will be introduced into Ontario's healthcare system in the future.

(Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario, 2009)


The required education for becoming a nurse practitioner is narrowed down to three basic steps:

1. Train as a registered nurse (RN)
2. Obtaining clinical working experience as an RN
3. Take additional nursing training

The primary step in becoming a nurse practitioner is to first become a registered nurse (RN), the process of becoming a RN is completing a degree or diploma in nursing, and must pass the provincial exam. You must work as an RN for a period of 1 to 3 years before you are able to apply for a nurse practitioner program. The program is usually 1-2 years in length and can lead to a master’s degree, diploma, or certificate.

*Admission requirements vary slightly by program and contact the school of interest for specific information*

Suggested Qualifications:

· Background in science (biology and chemistry)
· Communication skills
· Problem-solving skills
· Coping with stress
· Emotional maturity

(Career Cruising, 2009)


Earnings for nurse practitioner depend on location, employer, and experiences. The general salary for a nurse practitioner
ranges from about $52,000 to $90,000 a year. However, some NP's can earn more than $90,000 a year depending on the
amount of experience they have.
Full-time Nurse practitioners can receive benefits such as paid vacations days, dental coverage, and retirement contributions.

(Career Cruising, 2009)

Scope of Practice

The Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) and Nursing Act set and guide the practice of nursing. The legal framework comprises a scope of practice statement, a number of controlled acts and other authorized activities, such as ordering laboratory tests.

The following statement applies to all College members:
The practice of nursing is the promotion of health and the assessment of, the provision of, care for, and the treatment of, health conditions by supportive, preventive, therapeutic, palliative and rehabilitative means in order to attain or maintain optimal function. (Nursing Act)

Under the Nursing Act, all nurses can, when specific conditions are met:
1. perform a prescribed procedure below the dermis or a mucous membrane;
2. administer a substance by injection or inhalation; and
3. put an instrument, hand or finger:
i. beyond the external ear canal,
ii. beyond the point in the nasal passages where they normally narrow,
iii. beyond the larynx,
iv. beyond the opening of the urethra,
v. beyond the labia majora,
vi. beyond the anal verge, or
vii. into an artificial opening into the body.

In addition to the above controlled acts, NPs can initiate and perform the following controlled acts:
4. communicate to a client or his or her representative:
■ a diagnosis made by the NP that determines, as the cause of a client’s symptoms, a disease or disorder identified from the client’s health history,
■ the findings of a comprehensive examination, or
■ the results of any laboratory tests or other tests and investigations that the NP can order or perform;
5. prescribe a drug, or category of drugs, as designated in the regulations;
6. administer a drug by inhalation or injection that NPs may prescribe; and
7. order the application of a form of energy as prescribed in the regulations, such as an ultrasound.

(College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009)


The responsibility that a nursing practitioner has is a lot greater than a registered nurse. They require more education and more experience than a regular nurse. They need to be able to deal with problems, communicate with others well, and also deal with stress well. The work revolves around interaction with other individuals, just like most health care job, but it is even more important that they utilize these skills because they have the power to diagnose and treat clients. Becoming a nurse provides many opportunities, becoming a nursing practitioner is just one of them.

Links of Interest

Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario
Nurse Practitioner : Practice Standards

Career Cruising. (2009). Education and Training. Retrieved from http://www.careercruising.com/Careers/JobDetails.aspx?LoginID=7cfac346-30e3-44a7-b9c0-46027ae24ac3-&OccNumber=303&field=Education

Career Cruising. (2009). Earnings. Retrieved from http://www.careercruising.com/Careers/JobDetails.aspx?LoginID=7cfac346-30e3-44a7-b9c0-46027ae24ac3-&OccNumber=303&field=Salary

College of Nurses of Ontario (2009). Practice standards: Nurse Practitioners. Retrieved from http://www.cno.org/docs/prac/41038_StrdRnec.pdf

Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario. (2009). Your Ontario nurse practitioner. Retrieved from http://www.npao.org/Uploads/public/Brochure%20En.pdf

Wrong Diagnosis. (2009). Nursing practitioner. Retrieved from http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/spec/nurse_practitioner.htm