Get access

Prescriptive patterns of nurse practitioners and physicians


Alice Running, RN, PhD, FNP, ANP, Orvis School of Nursing/MS 134, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557. Tel: 775 784 6841; Fax: 775 784 4262; E-mail:


Purpose: To compare the prescriptive patterns of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians in a primary care setting for the treatment of sinusitis, bronchitis, musculoskeletal injury, and back pain.

Data sources: One hundred charts were reviewed for each condition for a total of 400 charts (200 of the charts were for NP providers, and 200 were for physician providers).

Conclusions: While the mean scores of the differences in prescriptive patterns were found to be statistically significant in only one instance, the overall findings indicate slight differences in the administration of medications for patients. Additionally, NPs prescribed more over-the-counter medications and provided more nonpharmacotherapeutic interventions for their patients than the physicians.

Implications for practice: The results, although statistically significant in only one category, indicate that NPs may be more cautious in their prescriptive interventions and provide more teaching for patients.