NP Scope of Practice

"Location, Location, Location!"


Where do you want to work?

When you’re deciding which Nurse Practitioner schools to apply for, be sure to apply for programs in the region where you would ultimately like to work as a certified Nurse Practitioner. The perk of applying to programs where you want to work is that you’ll already have clinical placements in that area as part of your NP program. That means, you’ll graduate with some connections in local clinics and hospitals. By all means, feel free to apply to schools in various regions, but be sure to have at least one application submitted where you want to end up working and living after graduation. This doesn’t mean you have to attend that specific school, but giving yourself as many options as possible is always a good idea!


Scope of Practice by State

When you’re deciding where to apply for NP school, it is worth noting that laws for NP practice vary from state to state. It may be in your best interest to train in a state that allows the same level of independence as the state you hope to ultimately practice. That way, once you graduate, you will be familiar with state legislations surrounding NP practice, and you will already be familiar with what it's like to actively practice in that state. Switching to a different state with a completely different scope of practice could take time getting used to, especially after you have spent several years in NP school practicing with a completely different legislation. If you are unsure of NP state practice laws, it is time to do some research!

This picture below (last updated on August 9, 2017) features a State Practice Environment Map from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) website. When you visit the site, you'll be able to learn the most updated information regarding NP scope of practice legislation from state to state:


As specified in the map above:

  • Green States = Full Practice
  • Yellow States = Reduced Practice
  • Red States = Restricted Practice

The map above is a fantastic resource because it makes it easier to understand the differences between NP practice throughout the nation. Also, keep in mind that scope of practice laws are regularly changing, so if you are ever unsure of a state's practice laws, it is best to check your resources for the most updated information.

For a more detailed summary of NP practice laws from each state, visit the AANP website:


Understanding Scope of Practice Law

When you want to learn more specifics when it comes to NP scope of practice, it is best to draw information from as many reliable resources as possible. Another useful resource for learning about NP scope of practice is the Barton Associates Interactive Nurse Practitioner (NP) Scope of Practice Law Guide. This interactive guide allows you to click on a specific state to learn more about that state's NP scope of practice (pictured below).

After you click on the state, the map will feature the extent of the NP's scope of practice in that state (specifically noting if the NP may practice with Full, Reduced, or Restricted practice) on each the following areas:

  • Full, Reduced, or Restricted Practice (general state status)
  • Medical Staff Membership
  • Autonomous Practice
  • Primary Care Provider
  • Independently Prescribe Schedule II Drugs
  • Order Physical Therapy
  • Sign Death Certificates
  • Sign Disabled Person Placard Forms

So even though a state overall may have "Restricted" practice, it helps to understand what that means by breaking the details down even further. This map does just that. So no matter where you decide to apply for NP school, it helps to know more prior to applying, rather than after you have already graduated from a program.

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