Nurse Practitioners (NP's) are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses with additional training in their desired specialty. NP's are NOT physicians (medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine). NP’s function as part of a collaborative healthcare system and are an important part of the team available to clients seeking treatment for underlying health concerns.
NP's must have a minimum of a Master's or Doctorate degree in Nursing as well as pass state licensure exams to hold this title. I hold both a Master's of Science in Nursing and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, and am nationally certified in both Family & Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. NP’s are trained and educated to assess, diagnose and treat a variety of physical and mental illnesses as well as focus on disease prevention and health maintenance.
In the state of California, NP’s must have a collaborative agreement with a physician colleague (either a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), as well as operate based on agreed upon Standardized Procedures which allow them to provide care outside of the Registered Nurse scope of practice. I comply with all state regulations in the state of California and have a licensed Medical Doctor collaborative agreement, as well as Standardized Procedures in place that allow me to provide comprehensive and Advanced Practice care to my clients.
The states of Oregon and Hawai’i are considered Full Practice states and allow NP’s to practice to the full extent of their education and clinical training. Full Practice states do not require an additional collaborative agreement or Standardized Procedures and recognize that NP’s can, “... evaluate patients; diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests; and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications and controlled substances, under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. This is the model recommended by the National Academy of Medicine, formerly called the Institute of Medicine, and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing”(American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 2023).
Although collaboration is not required in every state that I practice in, I remain engaged in monthly peer consultation groups with both NP’s and psychiatrists to stay abreast of the most up to date, evidenced based practices in the field of reproductive mental health.