Can nurse practitioners work as primary care providers?

What is the Role of a Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care?

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) have become indispensable, especially in primary care. But what exactly does a Nurse Practitioner do? How do they contribute to the healthcare field?

We’ll answer these questions, and more, while exploring the role of nurse practitioners in primary care and how they provide important services to individuals and families in need.

What is a nurse practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are highly skilled Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) . These practitioners have undergone advanced clinical education, training, and licensure, and are therefore able to provide upper-level services at the forefront of patient care. Unlike traditional registered nurses, nurse practitioners operate at the master’s or doctoral level, allowing them a broader scope of practice and more autonomous role. Specifically, nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat acute, episodic, and chronic illnesses, playing a pivotal role in comprehensive care.

The role of nurse practitioner in primary care

Nurse practitioners serve as frontline healthcare providers in primary care, offering services from diagnosing and treating illnesses to promoting health and preventing diseases. Their extensive training allows them to order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests such as lab work and X-rays. Plus, nurse practitioners have the authority to prescribe medications, which means that patients can receive effective management of their health conditions.

By working closely with individuals and families, nurse practitioners can establish relationships built on trust and compassion. From hospitals to private practices to clinics, nurse practitioners are dedicated to delivering personalized care designed to meet the needs of each patient.

Can nurse practitioners work as primary care providers?

Absolutely. Amidst a shortage of physicians, the role of nurse practitioners in primary care bridges the gap in healthcare access, providing timely and accessible care to communities nationwide. And with millions of Americans entrusting nurse practitioners with their primary care, it’s evident that they are more than capable of assuming this crucial role. Additionally, nurse practitioners can obtain certifications in specialized areas such as women’s health, neonatal care, and psychiatric–mental health, further enhancing their ability to address diverse healthcare needs.


Learn how to become a nurse practitioner through Goodwin University.


Pathways to a successful career as an NP in primary care

You can take many paths to become a nurse practitioner in primary care. Below are a few common pathways nurses take:

Become a psychiatric nurse practitioner online

Mental health issues affect roughly 20% of American adults, so it’s no wonder psychiatric nurse practitioners are in high demand. But, career changes can be complex when they require additional schooling. Trying to juggle your busy life while training for a new career may seem daunting, but don’t worry! Goodwin’s PMHNP-ARRN degree is designed with registered nurses in mind.

With a flexible degree program, clinical hour requirements, and certification opportunities, an online psychiatric nurse practitioner program might be the perfect option for you to expand your career.

Advance your RN career over time

Psychiatry not your thing? There are lots of other ways to navigate a nursing career. From leading a department to educating to specializations, there is something for everyone.

You can finish a BSN online and become a charge nurse, clinical nurse specialist, or supervisor. If you have higher aspirations, consider getting an MSN. This degree can lead to careers such as Chief Nursing Officer or Quality Improvement Director. Plus, nurses with an MSN typically earn 56% more than those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Start as an LPN and continue schooling

If you aren’t ready for a heavy school load, tackle school in shorter sprints, beginning as a Licensed Practical Nurse and working your way up. An LPN program takes one to two years to complete, making it a speedy way to enter the medical field. Eventually, you can get an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After that, you can take the RN licensing exam to become a licensed registered nurse.

Registered nurse to family nurse practitioner

For registered nurses (RNs) seeking to transition into the role of a family nurse practitioner (FNP), the journey is both rewarding and transformative. With a growing need for primary care providers, RNs are uniquely positioned to leverage their passion for helping others and expand their scope of practice through additional schooling. RNs can unlock new opportunities for career advancement and personal fulfillment by pursuing a graduate or doctoral degree in nursing.

Nurse practitioner program curriculum

The program curriculum at Goodwin University is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in primary care settings. The 47-credit program offers a specialized focus on primary care for the family unit, encompassing diverse subjects such as:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical Assessment
  • Policy, Politics, and Organization of Healthcare
  • Advanced Reasoning and Differential Diagnoses

Moreover, students engage in 600 precepted clinical hours, providing firsthand exposure to the realities of primary care practice.

The benefits of advancing to an FNP role

Transitioning from an RN to an FNP offers many benefits, including an increased scope of practice and a substantial pay increase. While the average annual salary for RNs stands at $86,070, FNPs enjoy a higher earning potential, with an average annual salary of $111,840. Beyond financial rewards, becoming an FNP allows individuals to make a tangible difference in the lives of patients and communities, serving as advocates for holistic healthcare and wellness promotion.

The path to becoming a nurse practitioner in primary care is paved with dedication, education, and opportunity.


Learn more about nurse practitioner programs at Goodwin University to see if it’s a good career choice for you.