Excerpt from an article on the Mayo School of Health Sciences website:
"Nurse practitioners (NPs) have provided health-care services to patients for more than 40 years. The nurse practitioner role had its inception in the mid-1960s in response to a nationwide shortage of physicians. NPs provide primary and some acute care, and are qualified to meet the majority of patients' health-care needs. They promote a comprehensive approach to health care and emphasize the overall health and wellness of their patients."
"NPs are registered nurses (RNs) who are prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide preventive and acute health-care services to individuals of all ages. Today, most NPs complete graduate-level education that leads to a master's degree. They work independently and collaboratively on the health-care team."
For additional information download this article from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners: Frequently Asked Questions Why Choose A Nurse Practitioner as...
Or read this article from the National Institutes of Health.