3 Differences Between an RN and a Nurse Practitioner


Many people are interested in working in health care, and specifically in nursing, but it can be confusing to understand all the different types of nursing degrees and what they mean. There are many kinds of nurses, and some career paths require more training or additional certifications than others. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available both online and off that can help you understand your options within the nursing field. If you’re considering a career in nursing, read on to learn three key differences between an RN and a nurse practitioner.

1. A nurse practitioner must have a graduate degree in nursing.

One of the primary differences between registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) is the amount of schooling required. Registered nurses have to earn an accredited degree, then pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and apply for state licensure. NPs need a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) and must complete more clinic hours than RNs. NPs can even pursue other certifications to work with specific patient populations. If you have an associate degree or diploma in nursing, you may want to look into RN to NP programs to see if continuing your education could help you take the next step in your career.

If you’re in the process of applying for a degree program, you may want to look into working with a college admissions company. A professional admissions counselor has years of experience helping students like you get into their top-choice schools. With acceptance rates getting lower every year and competition increasing for spots in elite universities, you should do everything you can to make yourself stand out as an applicant.

2. RNs have more limited observation and care responsibilities.

RNs and NPs both have duties related to patient observation and care, but NPs are permitted to prescribe treatment, order tests, and diagnose patients. RNs usually work under a physician who is responsible for coming up with a treatment plan, diagnosis, and managing follow-up care. The educational background and additional training required is the main reason why nurse practitioners have more responsibility and autonomy.

3. Nurse practitioners earn a higher average salary.

Though RNs and NPs both typically earn above-average salaries with generous benefits, nurse practitioners have a median wage of over $110,000 in the United States, while the median pay for an RN is just over $75,000. NPs do tend to out-earn RNs, in large part due to the fact that their work requires more education, advanced training, and specific certifications. The more skills you’re able to master, the better your wage is likely to be.

No matter what type of nursing degree you decide to pursue, it’s important to keep in mind that the medical field can be difficult and stressful, especially now. Finding ways to care for your mental and physical health, even when your job is demanding, will be essential if you want to have a long and successful career. Long shifts often make getting enough sleep uniquely challenging for health care workers, but sleep deprivation can cause everything from memory problems to weakened immunity. If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, start looking for products and techniques that can help you get a good night’s rest.

Nursing can provide a challenging and rewarding career path for those who want to work in health care, but there are several different types of nursing jobs. The most significant difference between these jobs is the educational background you’re required to have. Nurse practitioners make more money and have more responsibility at work, but you do need an MSN to qualify for nurse practitioner jobs. Becoming an RN requires less schooling, which may make it more accessible for some students. You can also take advantage of an RN to NP program in the future if you decide you want to take the next step in your career.