Registered nurses and nurse practitioners typically work within the same healthcare environments - hospitals, outpatient care centres, physician’s offices and anywhere that provides direct health services. But there are significant differences in the scope of job duties and the overall compensation for each.
Both types of nurses provide and coordinate patient care. But those extra years of nursing school allows a nurse practitioner to take the scope of their work even further. Mostly related to actually diagnosing patients and treating illnesses.
Although you’re more likely to have mainly seen registered nurses, you’ve probably interacted with nurse practitioners at various medical appointments too. Whilst registered nurses and nurse practitioners may look a lot alike on the surface, there are some pretty distinct differences between them.
If you are considering a career in nursing, it is definitely worth your time to learn as much as you can about your potential nursing career path. This will help you feel a lot more confident in your decision to become a nurse.
To help you get started in this decision, read on to learn about the key differences between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner.
Registered Nurse vs Nurse Practitioner: The Basics
If you're wondering 'Why would one want to be a nurse or nurse practitioner?' Both of these professions are in high demand. The NHS will be needing 190,000 additional posts to be filled by 2027, according to Public Health England.
Both of these professions require a nursing degree in one of the four main nursing specialisms. These nurse courses, UK learners, are adult nursing, child nursing, mental health nursing and special educational needs nursing. Once this stage is completed, a potential nurse practitioner would then need to complete a master’s degree.
Their master’s level qualification enables nurse practitioners to enjoy more autonomy than other nurses. Dependent on experience, some nurse practitioners would be allowed to practice outside of collaboration with a doctor.
Their additional qualifications and job duties also enable them to secure a higher salary than a registered nurse.
Registered Nurse vs Nurse Practitioner: The Specialities
Both registered nurses and nurse practitioners have a plethora of specialities they can choose to dedicate their careers to. But the higher-level qualifications of nurse practitioners pave the path toward a number of advanced roles that wouldn’t be available to a registered nurse.
These include neonatal nurse practitioners, paediatric nurse practitioners, mental health nurse practitioners, adult nursing practitioners, family nurse practitioners and more.
A taste of what these nurse practitioner specialities may entail are:
Family Nurse Practitioners
Using a family centred approach to health promotion, disease prevention and illness intervention. Addressing the primary healthcare needs of families from infancy through to adulthood.
Adult Nurse Practitioners
Working across a very broad patient population. From patients in adolescence all the way through to elderly patients. They are able to invest in long-term care for their patients. Helping craft care plans and educating both patients and their families along the way.
Mental Health Nurse Practitioners
Addressing the medical health needs of all people who live with or are experiencing episodes of poor mental health. Or other common medical conditions related to those challenges. Mental health nurse practitioners may also focus on community wide mental health promotion.
Registered Nurse vs Nurse Practitioner: Typical Duties
The noticeable difference between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner would be the duties of each direct health nurse. These are:
- Patient monitoring
- Recording and maintaining patient records
- Ordering diagnostic tests
- Consulting and supervising other members of a patient’s healthcare team
- Communicating with patients and families about care plans, health education and disease prevention
- Assisting doctors with patient examinations and treatments
- Prescribing medications, monitoring side effects and drug interactions
- Taking, analysing, and interpreting patient health histories in order to provide correct diagnoses
- Creating individualised treatment plans
- Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses
- Monitoring and managing chronic illnesses
- Working with patients to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle
How do you Become a Nurse?
Being either a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner in the UK requires extensive levels of training and study. If you want to know how to become a nurse, UK learners would need a nursing degree in one of the four main specialisms of nursing. Most commonly, this degree is completed at university.
To gain acceptance into university, you would need to meet the entry requirements of your desired institution. Although, not every university has the same entry requirements. More commonly, you would need to have GCSE Maths and English at a grade 4 (grade C) or above. As well as a minimum of 3 A Levels, or an equivalent qualification.
Equivalent qualifications to A Levels include a BTEC, HND, or HNC, a relevant NVQ or an Access to Higher Education Diploma.
An Access to Higher Education Diploma is a popular route for anyone wanting to pursue university without the relevant qualifications. This one Access to Nursing online course provides you with the correct amount of UCAS tariff points, removing the need for multiple A Levels. Dependent on the final grade of your Access to Higher Education Diploma, this could provide you with between 48 and 144 UCAS points. Equivalent to 3 A Levels.
If you already hold a degree, you may be eligible to complete a postgraduate nursing degree instead. Assuming that your degree is in a relevant or similar field to nursing.
Study Nursing Online
If you want to become nurse, an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) is a perfect option to meet entry requirements for university. Available to study entirely online, this nursing diploma allows you to qualify without sacrificing any commitments.
With the opportunity to work from wherever you would like to, you can work around your already established schedule. Whether it be childcare, work or otherwise. Giving you the flexibility to participate in studying whenever suits you.
What’s more, all of the learning material is available to you as soon as you enrol on your Access to Higher Education Nursing course, unlike physical institutes like colleges. Where you would have to wait for the new term to begin.