This literature review was done to explore the use of master's-prepared nurse practitioners to manage critically ill patients. Data-based, anecdotal, clinical, analytic, and position papers published over the past 10 years in the medical and nursing literature were reviewed. This article synthesizes findings on the use of nurse practitioners in clinical settings including primary and specialty care settings, describes favorable outcomes of advanced practice nurses, and identifies factors that must be addressed as these roles increase in use in critical care settings. Nurse practitioners' movement into critical care settings should be undertaken. Additional federal support to ensure the preparation of these practitioners in adequate numbers is needed. Attention to issues of direct reimbursement, salaries, impact of changing role boundaries, malpractice coverage, and prescription privileges must be addressed. Research programs to examine the effect of nurse practitioners in specialized care should continue.

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