Adult Nurse Practitioner: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Adult nurse practitioners provide medical care to patients from teen through the elderly. They must possess a master's degree, licensure, and possibly certification. The job growth outlook for nurse practitioners is very positive for the period of 2019 to 2029.

Essential Information

Adult nurse practitioners (ANPs) are highly skilled and educated primary medical care providers who diagnose and treat a wide range of problems and prescribe medications. These professionals focus on pathophysiology, disease management and wellness maintenance specifically in the adult population. This career requires both bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and registered nurse licensure. Adult nurse practitioners (ANPs) may obtain voluntary certification in adult nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Required Education Master's degree in nursing
Licensure and Certification Required state licensure; optional ANCC certification
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 52% for all nurse practitioners
Median Salary (2020)* $111,680 annually for all nurse practitioners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Adult Nurse Practitioners

While similar to the role that a doctor plays in health management, the ANP's approach is slightly different. In addition to diagnosing and treating illness and injury, an ANP instructs patients on wellness and prevention, along with serving an educational and promotional role in the community. An ANP is usually an independent practitioner who works in a doctor's office, hospital, emergency room, rehabilitation center, nursing home or other medical facility.

Job Duties for Adult Nurse Practitioners

A day in the life of an ANP will look much like a family practice physician's, but with the added component of instruction. An ANP will see patients and write referrals, as well as order and interpret tests. Both chronic and acute conditions are treated, such as injuries or diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. Medications must also be managed. However, in addition to these tasks, the ANP will spend time with patients teaching them how to help manage their own care. The ANP will counsel patients on diet, exercise or physical therapy; test results and medication side effects. If necessary, the ANP will work closely with family members to ensure that their patients' health care plans are adequately maintained.

Requirements for Adult Nurse Practitioners

An ANP is an advanced practice nurse, which requires a master's degree in all states in the U.S. Entrance into a master's programs requires the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A BSN program is designed not only to prepare students for graduate study, but also to provide graduates with crucial abilities in situational analysis, clinical assessment and critical thinking. Students in such a program could expect to take classes such as:

  • Physical assessment
  • Pharmacology foundations
  • Introduction to pathophysiology
  • Cross-cultural patient care
  • Altered adult and pediatric health

These programs will often have a simulated laboratory that allows nursing students to gain experience in a clinical setting prior to interaction with live patients. Once this part of instruction is completed, nursing students begin rotations in various specialties of nursing. Rotations expose nursing students to clinical experiences in obstetrics, surgery, critical care, community health, psychiatry and pediatrics, among other departments.

Upon graduation from nursing school, every state in the U.S. requires nurses to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Once this exam has been passed, nurses may use the (RN) designation.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Adult Healthcare

For aspiring adult nurse practitioners, master's degrees tailored to adult health advanced practice nursing are available. These 2-year programs prepare graduates to take on leadership roles upon completion of their degree. Decision-making, both independent and collaborative, is emphasized in this program, along with assessment, disease prevention and management of health issues. Particularly vulnerable patient populations are studied, as are wellness and prevention in the population as a whole. Typical courses in a master's program in adult health nursing would be:

  • Population based health care
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Health and wellness promotion
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Adult health management


The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers board certification in adult nursing. The ANP credential is available for RNs who hold master's or doctoral degrees from accredited nursing programs and have a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours of experience. When these requirements are met, candidates may sit for an examination for board certification.

Salary for Adult Nurse Practitioners

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the lowest-earning 10% of nurse practitioners earned $82,960 per year or less, and the highest-earning 10% earned $156,160 per year or more in 2020. The top-paying industries for community food and housing, and emergency services, and religious organizations. The industries that employ the most nurse practitioners are physician's offices and general medical and surgical hospitals. Nurse practitioners working in California, New Jersey, Washington, New York and Massachusetts earned the highest salaries in 2020.

Adult nurse practitioners provide medical care to patient populations ranging from teens to the elderly. This advanced practice nurse position requires one to have a master's degree in nursing and licensure.

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