A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse. This type of healthcare professional is trained to diagnose disease, order diagnostic tests, formulate medications and create treatment plans for patients. Nurse practitioners often work with physicians or other healthcare professionals. They are not a substitute for doctors, but they can assist them in many situations. Here are some of the benefits of a career as a nurse practitioner. The first step to becoming a nurse practitioner is earning a degree in nursing. Many people start by obtaining an associate degree in nursing. Others choose to get a bachelor's degree and later enroll in graduate school. In either case, earning a master's degree in nursing can help you advance your career path. Nurse practitioners work with physicians and can often practice in the same office as them. This can make the schedule much more flexible for patients. Additionally, many nurse practitioners have their own practices and can set their own hours. Although physicians typically have more training, nurses can specialize in many areas. In primary care, for example, a nurse practitioner can focus on prevention and improved health instead of disease treatment. Nurse practitioners also need to be good communicators. They need to be able to interact with patients and other medical professionals in order to diagnose illnesses and create effective treatment plans. They also need to be good at writing, as they have to document medical procedures and research findings. Additionally, nurse practitioners need to think critically in order to diagnose patients and develop effective treatment plans.