Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medicine to Patient

Can Registered Nurses Prescribe Medication? – Are They Authorized To Do So?

Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medicine to Patient

Not everyone who needs sick or goes to the hospital requires extensive testing to be treated sufficiently. This is why most states allow a registered nurse to prescribe medication.

States differ in this regard, with some allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe medications. These differences differ from state to state, with some only allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe certain levels of medications.

What Types of Nurse Practitioners Can Prescribe Medication?

Nurse practitioners can prescribe medications across all US states. However, some states limit which nurse practitioners can prescribe medication and which medications they are allowed to prescribe.

For example:

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) have the authority to prescribe medications without the oversight of a doctor if they are licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and professional regulation (IDFPR).

Advanced practice nurses include:

  • Certified nurse practitioners (CNP)
  • Certified nurse-midwives (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA)
  • Clinical nurse specialists (CNS)

Any of these types of nurses are qualified to prescribe medications listed as schedule three drugs or above.

Conditions For Nurse Practitioners Prescribing Medication

Nurse practitioners cannot prescribe medications without limit. In Illinois, even advanced nurse practitioners with extra training are required to meet further education requirements to even be able to administer schedule two drugs on the orders of a doctor or physician.

An advanced practice nurse is required to have completed 45 hours minimum of pharmacology and five hours of continuing education annually.

These requirements are above the specialized degree advanced practice nurses complete as well as the state exams they must frequently write to be allowed to practice as registered nurses.

And Registered Nurses?

Contrary to advanced practice nurses, standard registered nurses are not allowed to prescribe medications independently from a doctor’s or physician’s orders. Registered nurses require a physician’s order to administer medications.

Registered nurses are often used to prepare medical histories, record symptoms, monitor patients, and even assist with medical treatments but not allowed to diagnose patients.

There are expectations where in emergencies, a registered nurse is allowed to administer specific medications by their acting supervisor.

Source: Pixabay

What Is The Difference Between a Nurse Practitioner and a Registered Nurse?

There is a substantial difference between nurse practitioners and registered nurses. Mainly the most important difference is the level of education and qualifications.

Nurse practitioners have specialized degrees and additional training, whereas registered nurses aren’t required to have a degree and high levels of training that nurse practitioners have.

The main difference between nurse practitioners and registered nurses is that nurse practitioners can diagnose patients and prescribe medication.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses can be found in every healthcare setting but focus on direct care to patients and monitoring their patients’ recovery or decline. The role of a registered nurse very much depends on their setting and whom the registered nurse is taking care of.

The general duties of registered nurses include counseling patients and their family members; checking patient vitals; administering medications on the order of a physician or doctor; charting patient data and behavior; and managing other medical professionals, such as CNAs, medical assistants, and nurses aides.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners have an advanced scope of their practice and have a wider range of duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners act as primary care providers in many settings. In some states, nurse practitioners can even run their own medical offices.

Nurse practitioners offer healthcare for those who have trouble accessing large practices/hospitals and those in rural or underserved urban areas.

Nurse practitioners provide a crucial healthcare perceptive that focuses on education, wellness, and preventive measures to stop illness before it happens.

The responsibilities of a nurse practitioner depend on their setting, specialty, and state they work in. Many states allow nurse practitioners to work independently.

Some states require nurse practitioners to work under a physician. Similarly, some states grant nurse practitioners the ability to write prescriptions, while a few states do not.

The typical responsibilities of a nurse practitioner include:

  • Providing primary care to patients within the scope of practice allowed in their state
  • Diagnosing illnesses, injuries, and infections
  • Performing in-office treatments for acute injuries and infections
  • Ordering and reviewing the results of diagnostic tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and X-rays
  • Gathering thorough patient data for patient records
  • Designing treatment plans for each patient
  • Educating patients about their health
  • Prescribing medication in states that grant prescriptive authority to NPs

What Is The Key Difference?

The crucial difference between nurse practitioners and registered nurses is that registered nurses provide direct care and counseling to patients, whereas nurse practitioners provide healthcare such as diagnoses, prescribe antibiotics and other medications, education, and preventive methods to reduce the possibility of illness.

What Is The Difference Between Nurse Practitioners And Doctors?

Nurse Practitioner vs. Doctor

Nurse practitioners and doctors have very similar roles in the healthcare industry. The main difference between the two is that doctors study far longer than nurse practitioners and therefore have a better understanding of some medical procedures than nurse practitioners.

Doctors can indefinitely prescribe medication, whereas not every state allows nurse practitioners to prescribe medication.

Doctors spend an average of three more years on their education and training than nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners first must become registered nurses, which rake roughly two to four years to complete. They must then obtain a master’s degree which will take another two or three years.

The last step to becoming a nurse practitioner is passing the APRN certification exam. Nurse practitioners can also hold board certifications on family practice and women’s health which increases their degree of training.

In What States Can Nurse Practitioners Write Prescriptions For Medication?

Nurse practitioners can prescribe medication in all 50 states and Washington DC, but some states do have requirements or limitations on how nurse practitioners can prescribe medications.

A few states require that nurse practitioners must demonstrate safe practice for up to a year before they can even apply for a controlled substance certificate which allows them to prescribe medication.

Other states require that nurse practitioners are overseen by medical doctors when prescribing medications. This means that in some states, a nurse practitioner must have a doctor authorize their prescription before it can be issued to a patient.

There are 37 states which require a form of oversight from a doctor or physician for nurse practitioners when they are prescribing medications.

The states that don’t require physician oversight are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

Source: Pixabay

What Medications Can Nurse Practitioners Prescribe?

The laws of what nurse practitioners can or cannot prescribe differ from state to state, with only a few exemptions. The APRN credentials allow nurse practitioners to prescribe a range of medications.

Nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses who have APRN credentials can prescribe all antibiotics and antidepressants across all 50 states. They are allowed to prescribe these medications because they are unlikely to cause addiction.

Birth control is another medication that is not deemed addictive or habit-forming but some states do not allow nurse practitioners to prescribe them.

Narcotics are divided into five categories (schedule I-V). The DEA tightly regulate narcotics as many of them are habit-forming and can cause addiction. Nurse practitioners are only allowed to prescribe narcotics that are schedule III and above.

A specific narcotic called suboxone is used to help people addicted to opioids control their withdrawal symptoms. They can be prescribed by Nurse practitioners in some states only if they have been registered with the DEA and have valid credentials to do so.

What Licensing or Qualifications Do Nurse Practitioners Need To Prescribe Medication?

Nurse practitioners cannot prescribe narcotic medications without a federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number. Narcotics or controlled substances are used to help patients manage their pain.

Most narcotics are highly addictive and pose a danger to patients. The DEA oversees the licensing of who can prescribe narcotics. Nurse practitioners must apply for their DE number online or by calling the DEA headquarters.

Once nurse practitioners have their DEA number, they can proceed to apply for the Advance Practice Registered Nurses(APRN) examination. This will allow them to be able to prescribe medications.

Who Grants, Regulates, and Supplies the Prescriptive Authority to a Nurse Practitioner?

Prescription drugs have become a serious problem in many parts of the U.S.A., but with many patients still needing controlled substances, how does a nurse practitioner get prescriptive authority?

The AANP indicates that prescriptive authority can only be granted and “solely regulated by state boards of nursing and by the NP role, education, and certification.” This is not a national regulation meaning each state defines prescriptive authority with a different definition than other states.

There are three different categories of prescriptive authority; ‘full practice,’ ‘reduced practice,’ and ‘restrictive practice.’

Full practice authority is when a nurse practitioner prescribes medication legally and independently (without a physician or doctor’s oversight).

Reduced practice is where nurse practitioners can write prescriptions but must follow strict guidelines(different from state to state) regulating how the practice must be carried out.

Some states require that reduced practice prescriptive authority still requires the oversight of a doctor or physician, while other states only require a collaborative agreement with a physician.

Restrictive practice states require that nurse practitioners must have physician supervision for the entirety of their careers. This means that they are restricted from prescribing medication independently indefinitely.

What States Have Which Prescriptive Authority

Each state in the U.S. falls under one of three prescriptive authorities. All of the 52 states are listed below in which prescriptive authority they allow to a nurse practitioner.

Full Practice Authority

Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming.

Reduced Practice Authority

Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, UtahWest, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Restrictive Practice Authority

California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Can a Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance. This means that there are tight regulations regarding how, why, and who can be prescribed this medication. Additionally, the process of receiving this controlled substance is very different from other medications.

It is best to seek out which medical establishments can prescribe medical marijuana as it is not a substance that most nurse practitioners can prescribe. Not all states have legalized medical marijuana and therefore, you will first need to check if your state has legalized it.

Additionally, you cannot use recreational marijuana if you have been prescribed the medicinal kind. Most forms that medical marijuana is prescribed are ingested and require strict procedures in how you take this medicine.

Instead of looking for a nurse practitioner who may be able to prescribe this medicine, it is best to look for clinics that specialize in its prescription.

Source: Pixabay


Are Nurse Practitioners Doctors?

No, whilst nurse practitioners have impressive qualifications such as a master’s degree, a nursing degree, and many other medical qualifications such as the APRN, they are not doctors.

Nurse practitioners have a very broad scope of practice in the healthcare industry and are used as primary healthcare workers to bridge the wealth gap and supply good healthcare to rural areas and people without health insurance.

Nurse practitioners are very knowledgeable and have extensive training in healthcare.

Can Nurse Practitioners Deliver Babies?

Nurse practitioners would have undergone training to deliver babies during their APRN examinations. There are midwife nurses who are specially trained to help deliver babies and are defined as advanced practice registered nurses.

Midwives are better trained to help deliver babies than nurse practitioners. However, nurse practitioners are still able to deliver a baby.

Can Nurse Practitioners Diagnose and Treat Conditions?

Yes, one of the primary roles of a nurse practitioner is to diagnose and treat conditions. Within the scope of practice of a nurse practitioner, they can also provide diagnostic tests such as X-rays to accurately diagnose patients.

Can a Nurse Practitioner Perform Surgery?

Performing some procedures is within the scope of practice that a nurse practitioner will know.

Furthermore, surgical nurse practitioners are responsible for the preparation of a surgical procedure and help the surgeon during the operation. Surgical nurse practitioners are also responsible for the aftercare of patients post-surgery.

Can Nurse Practitioners Practice Independently?

Yes, many NPs have their own practices and act as primary healthcare workers. However, not all states allow NPs to work independently. A few states require that NPs are supervised by a physician or doctor at all times. It depends on which state you’re in, but most nurse practitioners can operate independently.

Which Nurse Practitioner Specialty Makes the Most Money?

A 2019 AANP national nurse practitioners sample survey showed that Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) and neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP) are paid the highest of the nurse practitioner specialties.

The estimated annual salary is $131,500. It is important to note that these are subject to schedule, location as well as other variables that dictate the pay of a nurse practitioner. The highest-paying locations were found in California, New York, and Washington.

Do Nurse Practitioners Have NPI Numbers?

An NPI number is National Provider Identifier (NPI) and is used to hold many healthcare workers accountable. All healthcare providers who are covered under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) will have an NPI number.


Nurse practitioners are highly qualified nurses who are trained to be primary healthcare workers who can provide adequate and high-quality healthcare. Nurse practitioners are capable of doing many things under their scope of practice, such as being able to prescribe medications.

Whether a nurse practitioner can prescribe medication depends on whether they have the appropriate qualifications and if their state allows them to prescribe medication.

A nurse practitioner should be able to prescribe medications in any state. However, they may need to be supervised by a physician or doctor, depending on the state. For more information visit

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Avlin is passionate about helping aspirants become better personal support workers. He is an entrepreneur and runs a clinic in Toronto.

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