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A career in nursing revolves around patient care and can be a fulfilling career path for many people. Not only are nurses one of the most trusted groups of professionals in the US, according to the American Nurses Association, but there is a wide scope when it comes to earning potential and career advancement. Becoming a nurse practitioner is a popular next step for nurses who want to further their careers and take on more responsibility. Here is a guide to the role of a nurse practitioner to help you decide if it is the right career move for you.
What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?
Nurse practitioners (NP) are a health care provider who works in an array of specialities to provide comprehensive patient care. Depending on their practice, advanced practitioners share similar responsibilities to doctors and can provide both primary and preventative care. The nurse practitioner’s role can include examining and diagnosing patients, prescribing medication, ordering diagnostic tests, and providing treatment.
Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work?
As licensed nurse practitioners can specialize in many different areas, they can work in various healthcare and medical settings. For example, nurse practitioners can provide care to patients in hospitals, private practices, clinics, nursing homes, health departments within an educational setting or in a physician’s office. They can even provide care within patient’s homes for in-home healthcare agencies.
Nurse Practitioner Specialisms
Depending on the type of program a prospective student undertakes, they can decide to specialize in a specific area. This can include adult health, family health, acute care, neonatal, pediatric, psychiatric, or women’s health. By choosing a specialism early in their career, prospective NPs can expand their skills and broaden their knowledge in their desired field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a nurse practitioner is $117,670 per year, which is a huge leap from the median average salary for a registered nurse, $75,330. Not only is the earning potential better, but from 2019 to 2029, the overall employment for NPs is projected to grow 45 per cent. This rate far exceeds the national average or other occupations.
Nurse Practitioners Are in Demand
As a trusted group of professionals, more and more people are turning to nurse practitioners for care. Not only do nurse practitioners hold the trust of US citizens, but they possess clinical experience and are qualified to provide a wide range of services to patients. With more people, who were previously uninsured seeking healthcare and the demand for healthcare services and preventative care from an ageing population, there is more demand for nurse practitioners than ever before.
Not to mention, there is a projected deficit of physicians in the US. The growing shortage of primary care physicians opens up opportunities for nurse practitioners. In addition, nurse practitioners can often negotiate better employment benefits, such as salary, vacation, scheduling, and retirement contributions.
The top States For Nurse Practitioners
With the soaring demand for nurse practitioners, there is a positive outlook for prospective NPs across the United States. In particular, California, New Jersey, and Texas top the leaderboard for the best outlook for NPs. The average annual salary for nurse practitioners in California is $145,970, and there are around 1,200 career opportunities for NPs per year. The average annual salary in New Jersey is $130,890, while the lone star state comes in at third in terms of projected employment for NPs.
How Can I Become a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), and to become a nursing practitioner, you must undergo specific training. To be a nursing practitioner, you must begin by becoming a registered nurse and then achieving a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After this, you must achieve a graduate degree, gain relevant experience, and obtain certification. This is a big commitment, and not everyone finds that they are suited to the role. To get an idea of what the basic nursing job entails, you can always volunteer as a health care assistant, or get a job in your local hospital.
There are many programs to choose from as a registered nurse, but it is important to enrol in a course from a trusted institution. When choosing a program, seek one with accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Registered nurses with an ADN can enrol in a graduate program, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), straight away. Alternatively, they can progress to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and then work their way up to a graduate degree.
Nurse Practitioner Certification
All nurse practitioners must obtain the correct license, which is dependent on the state they wish to practice in. Therefore, before enrolling in a program, it is important for prospective students to research the legalities and licensure to legally practice.
Work and Study Simultaneously
Registered nurses in full or part-time roles can take advantage of online degree programs. By undertaking a degree alongside work, nurses can progress their careers while earning a living at the same time. Online education enables registered nurses to balance steady work with their home life and advance their careers simultaneously.
Popular Nurse Practitioner Specialisms
Family Nurse Practitioner
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) provide primary health care services to individuals, families, and communities. As a primary care provider, they work with these groups for an extended period and can maintain long-term relationships. In addition, the nature of the role means that it can be an incredibly enriching career choice.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
This specialism revolves around premature and newborn baby care. The role can include diagnosing patients, prescribing medication, and creating treatment plans.
Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) have an average annual salary of $125,000, making this specialism the most well-paid out of all of the NP specialist roles. PMHNPs specialize in caring for people with psychiatric disorders, substance abuse disorders, and behavioural problems.