Home Articles Nurse Practitioner VS Registered Nurse – Know the Difference

Nurse Practitioner VS Registered Nurse – Know the Difference


Not only is nursing among the noblest of all professions, but it is also among the most sought after, especially in light of the current pandemic. Apart from the fact that helping people in need provides an unmatched sense of fulfillment, the nursing job itself brings about many appealing perks. One can count on job security, satisfactory salaries, and even traveling opportunities. 

Furthermore, there are a plethora of career paths so there is definitely something for everyone. At the top of this list, we have two very similar yet unique positions of a registered nurse (RN) and a nurse practitioner (NP). Knowing the difference between these two is crucial if you have set your heart on pursuing a career in healthcare, so let us take a look at what sets them apart and make your decision that much easier. 

The main differences in roles and responsibilities 

Both registered nurses and nurse practitioners manage patient care and observation. However, the largest difference between these two roles is that NPs are allowed to give diagnoses,  prescribe treatments, and order tests. Registered nurses, in contrast, operate under a physician who is in charge of patient care and diagnoses. 

That said, we can conclude that nurse practitioners have a greater responsibility towards their patients, which is based on the scope of their experience and education. 

The responsibilities of a registered nurse

The responsibilities of RNs may vary on a daily basis, depending on the place they work, the size of their team, and the number of patients. However, the majority of their tasks fall under the following:

  • Assessing patients and recording their symptoms and medical history
  • Administrating treatments and monitoring the patients’ progress
  • Managing patient care plans with their medical team
  • Taking samples for lab work and dressing wounds
  • Patient and family members’ education

Besides the clinical settings, registered nurses also work in assisted living facilities, large corporations, patient homes, and military institutions. Career options for RNs are abundant – family medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, oncology, and many more.

What’s more, there’s always an opportunity for advancement thanks to the variety of courses accessible online (like online advanced cardiac life support, for instance). By acquiring additional qualifications, you can step up the career ladder in no time at all. 

The responsibilities of a nurse practitioner 

NPs also work closely with patients and are in charge of monitoring their health and managing medical treatment. More specifically, their duties fall under the following:

  • Providing diagnoses based on patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Collecting samples and acquiring information
  • Examining the patients and evaluating results
  • Prescribing medications
  • Supervision of other staff members

The common specialties of nurse practitioners include pediatric and geriatric care, managed care facilities, government agencies, emergency room care, and university faculty, to name a few. 

Career and earning outlook

Even if there are differences in positions and salaries between NPs and RNs, we can safely say that both positions are demanding but that they are both generously paid. According to nurse.org, these two are among the 15 highest-paying nursing jobs in 2021. For example, a General Nurse Practitioner can earn up to $111,680, while a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist can have an annual salary of $183,580. 

Salaries that can be acquired in either of these positions depend on location, educational level, and chosen medical specialty. 

Going from an RN to an NP

The majority of nurse practitioners start out as registered nurses. However, once they decide to go forward, it is necessary for them to return to school for more advanced degrees to enjoy higher positions and paychecks, a more flexible work schedule, and more responsibility.

No matter which position a person chooses, there’s always more to learn. One thing is certain – all nursing career paths are rewarding and fulfilling, and if one wishes to prosper, there are a plethora of opportunities to choose from.