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  • Writer's pictureLael LaRanger

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?



Family Nurse Practitioners provide healthcare to the whole family - from infants to the elderly. Family Nurse Practitioners have undergone training and internships similar to doctors and are licensed to; diagnose illness, order labs, medical tests, prescribe medications and refer patients to other specialists. NP’s can practice independently or under the supervision of a medical doctor.


We share the same medical ethics as doctors. We are trained to promote our patient's well being, to do no harm, to respect our patients choices of care, to obtain informed consent, to tell the truth as best we know, to keep patient information private, and to provide fair, unbiased, appropriate treatment to all persons. 

Both nurse practitioners and medical doctors are trained in diagnosing disease, interpreting lab values, and have a deep knowledge of medications and treatment options. Our training paths differ. Nurse practitioners earn a four year undergraduate degree to become a Registered Nurse, followed by a two year Master of Science in Nursing, followed by three years working under the supervision of a medical doctor averaging nine years in advanced education.

Medical doctors earn a four year undergraduate degree, attend four years of medical school, followed by four years of residency, averaging around twelve years of advanced education.

Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners have the option to continue their education and obtain additional training beyond the minimal requirements. After years of experience both medical doctors and nurse practitioners provide excellent care for patients. 


There is often a difference in approach between nurse practitioners and medical doctors. Nurse practitioners have a background rooted in nursing. Nursing emphasizes the importance of getting patients involved in their healthcare. Nurses incorporate integrity, caring, and nurturing and recognize human contact as a very important component to encourage healing. Nurse practitioners use a comprehensive and personal approach to each individual's healthcare addressing; physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, environmental and social aspects of their patients' health.  Our goal is to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health, and to alleviate suffering.

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