top of page
Nurse Practitioner Association

What IS a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse Practitioner Association at NLNPA

Many civilians aren’t sure what a nurse practitioner is.


A nurse practitioner, or an NP, is a registered nurse that has received additional education and nursing experience. This means they can:

  • Diagnose and treat illnesses autonomously

  • Order tests and interpret them

  • Prescribe medications

  • Perform medical procedures


A nurse practitioner is a healthcare professional that treats the whole person, an approach that includes:

  • Address the needs of a patient relating to their physical and mental health

  • Gathering their medical history

  • Focusing on how an illness can affect their life and family

  • Offering solutions that help the patient lead a healthy life

  • Teaching them how to manage a chronic illness

Where do NPs Work?

  • An NP will work in a range of settings, including:

  • Community care (clinics, healthcare centres, physicians’ offices, and patients’ homes)

  • Long term care (nursing homes)

  • Hospitals (outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and other patient areas)

  • NP-led clinics

What kind of service does a nurse practitioner provide?

An NP can provide a range of care services to patients at every stage of their life. Alongside treating illnesses, an NP can teach an individual and their families about healthy living, disease prevention, and illness management. They have medical knowledge along with the values and skills of nursing. Often, they are also leaders, consultants, and researchers who incorporate new knowledge into their practice.


Do nurse practitioners take the place of other healthcare professionals?

Don’t worry – you can still see your family doctor. Nurse practitioners work in tandem with other professionals rather than replacing them.

What benefits come with seeing a nurse practitioner?

NPs add value to the Canadian healthcare system. Studies about the benefits and patients’ experience say that NPs:

  • Involve patients in decisions about their heathcare

  • Improve access to primary healthcare

  • Reduce pressures on the healthcare system

  • Are valued and trusted by patients

  • Provide high-quality management of chronic illness (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure)

What provinces or territories can an NP work in?

Each province and territory in Canada has its own legislation relating to NPs. For more information regarding NPs across Canada, seeing CAN’s Nursing Statistics section.

Are NPs a new addition to the healthcare system?

NPs first started appearing in Canada in the 1960s. In the early days, NPs provided care in rural and remote areas. By the 1970s, interest in the NP role had increased and more education programs had started up. Today, NPs are an important component of the healthcare system.

bottom of page