Whether you’re already a registered nurse or just considering pursuing a healthcare career, there are many benefits to becoming a nurse practitioner. Nurses are an integral part of their communities’ health and well-being, and nurse practitioners have an even more significant role to play. Where nurses have limitations in terms of the type of care they can offer, practitioners can provide independent care, allowing more Americans to access the services they need.
You will need to be a registered nurse or have your BSN to obtain the required credentials to become a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioner programs will allow you to upskill from there and get your MSN degree. Afterward, you can choose to specialize in an area you are passionate about.
What is a nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have taken nurse practitioner programs and have the advanced training, skills, and experience to provide high-quality care to their patients. They do not need to work under a doctor and are instead licensed to run their own independent practices. Taking nurse practitioner programs gives them the ability to assess and diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and provide treatments and even perform medical procedures. They help patients with illness prevention and the management of both chronic and acute illnesses.
Nurse practitioners can work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, long-term care facilities, and other community care facilities. They can offer general care or choose a specialty path that suits them, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or mental health.
Regardless of which pathway you choose, taking nurse practitioner programs and pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner has some fantastic benefits.
As a nurse practitioner, you have an independence level that you don’t as a registered nurse. While they may not have a doctor’s title, nurse practitioners can open their own private practices and serve their patients. In 28 states, nurse practitioners require no direct oversight from a doctor and can therefore work autonomously. The remaining states will likely follow suit as the demand for qualified health professionals continues to grow, and patients seek affordable care options. Already, nurse practitioners have the authority to prescribe medication in all 50 states and suggest further care options and medical equipment.
Many studies over the years have proven that nurse practitioners provide the same effective and high-quality care to their patients as physicians do. In some cases, nurse practitioners surpass doctors in patient satisfaction. They also help patients lower their healthcare costs and provide the healthcare industry with more professionals to mitigate the current shortage.
Nurses who have taken nurse practitioner programs also have the independence to order lab and diagnostic tests, and also interpret the results to come to a diagnosis. These tests could include blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, and more.
Having this level of independence is something that many professionals strive for, not wanting to work their entire career under someone else’s authority and supervision. Taking nurse practitioner programs will allow you to continue to progress in your healthcare career, without limiting your growth potential. Gain full autonomy and independence in your nursing career by pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner.
2. Financial benefits
It’s common knowledge that becoming a doctor requires many more years of schooling than becoming a nurse, which is why many choose to pursue a career as a nurse. The great news is that becoming a nurse practitioner requires lower financial investment, while still giving you all the education you need to practice independently. On top of that, The Balance Careers ranks nurse practitioner as the 2nd highest paying career for women. Of course, men can be nurse practitioners as well.
When it comes to schooling, it can take up to 14 years to become a fully licensed doctor, which has significant financial implications. Although licensed physicians make a considerable salary, it will still take many years to break even again. Becoming a nurse practitioner takes much less time and investment. You will need to become a registered nurse, which can take up to 4 years, provided you get your BSN. You can then pursue further education by taking nurse practitioner programs like your MSN, which you can take online while working and gaining on the job experience. Working on your craft while attending school will allow you to begin your career with less debt then you would when going to school full-time.
When looking at a nurse practitioner’s typical salary, the median annual wage is about $107,460, which is 60% higher than that of a registered nurse. Depending on your chosen niche, you can earn slightly more or less. For example, women’s health nurse practitioners sit more around the $101,000 range, and psychiatric nurse practitioners make around $152,500.
Being employed as a nurse practitioner gives you access to a comprehensive benefits package. Often beyond standard benefits like health insurance, dental coverage, and paid time off; a nurse practitioners’ package will include reimbursement for continuing education. Having these benefits is extremely important as medical technology continues to advance, and nurse practitioners will need to continuously upskill throughout their careers. Additionally, nurse practitioners can expect professional liability insurance, retirement plans, life insurance, paid sick leave, and reimbursement for licensing and certification fees.
3. Opportunity for Growth
Nurse practitioners have a ton of opportunity for growth within their career. They can choose to work for an established facility or open a practice of their own. The options are endless.
Variety of options
As a registered nurse, you can continue to gain experience and learn in your field, but there are a few progression opportunities beyond just being a nurse. Taking nurse practitioner programs and pursuing this path means that you can work with the people you feel most passionate about in the setting you enjoy most. That could be doing home visits or telemedicine for those unable to come to a clinic for care, or it could be working with children in a pediatric practice. You may not want to work in a clinical setting at all and can choose to work in education as a teacher or writer or work in a research field.
There is an increasingly high demand for nurse practitioners, as Americans become more aware of the importance of preventative care. More Americans are visiting healthcare professionals, and therefore more are needed. The projected growth rate for nurse practitioner professionals is 45% within the next decade, making it one of the most in-demand professions.
Nurse practitioners have a higher level of skill and education than registered nurses, making them a more attractive option for healthcare facilities. On top of that, they can prescribe medication and administer treatment, which helps alleviate the physician’s workload. Becoming a nurse practitioner offers a high level of job security so you won’t have to worry about struggling to find employment in your field, or your job being automated.
Opening a private practice
You may have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to open your own business. Becoming a nurse practitioner will allow you to enjoy all the fantastic things about being a nurse while also having the autonomy of running your own business. The opportunity to open a private practice as a nurse practitioner means that you can continue to grow and develop your business over time, with unlimited earning potential. With advancements like telehealth, practices can operate brick-and-mortar clinics while also delivering healthcare services online, via telephone or video appointments. Nurse practitioners opening private practices can offer their patients a more cost-effective way to access healthcare, leading to tremendous success.
4. Skill and knowledge development
Nurse practitioners will never stop learning. From the minute you enter nursing school until the day you retire, you will be continuously challenged intellectually and learning and developing new skills. The healthcare industry is always changing, with modern medical science and technology providing more efficient and effective ways of caring for patients. Nurse practitioner programs offer a tremendous amount of knowledge and skills training that will amplify everything you’ve learned as a registered nurse. You will delve deeper into patient specialization, learning about how to treat patients from different age groups, and with unique conditions.
You can take nurse practitioner programs while gaining experience as a registered nurse, with many people working for years as a nurse before upskilling. That said, some choose to pursue advanced training right away and go for their MSN shortly after becoming registered.
Areas of specialization
Once you have obtained your MSN, you can continue to take nurse practitioner programs to develop your knowledge and skills in a specific niche. Some of the main specializations that nurse practitioners pursue include women’s health, pediatrics, family health, adult health, neonatal, psychiatry, acute care, and gerontology. You can niche down even further and not only specialize in specific age groups but also in individual conditions. These could include neurology, dermatology, oncology, urology, orthopedics, cardiology, pulmonology, occupational health, and sports medicine. There is a lot of information to learn in all of these categories. Continuing education will allow you to increase your knowledge and provide the best level of service possible. Depending on which area you choose to specialize in, you will need different certifications. Certification renewal will also vary by state.
Beyond the knowledge you’ll obtain through in-class and online education, you will also gain clinical, hands-on practice. You will get the chance to work with complex patient cases that will require you to draw on all your learned knowledge to diagnose. After diagnosis, nurse practitioner students will then create treatment plans for these patients, containing medication, exercises, nutrition, and more. Clinical practice is a fantastic way to implement formal training practically and beneficially. Of course, after finishing school, you will continue to learn new things every day that you’re on the job, and the learning will never stop.
5. Change lives
Lastly, and most importantly, pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner gives you the chance to change patients’ lives dramatically. From preventative care to reducing health risks and the treatment of conditions, nurse practitioners ensure that patients live their lives to the fullest. Most people who choose to become a nurse do so because they want to help people, and being a nurse practitioner gives you even more opportunities to do that.
Nurse practitioners have one of the most rewarding careers out there. It is well respected, and your community will look to you for support during their times of crisis. You will build relationships with your patients in their families, helping them cope with their healthcare concerns, and promoting overall wellness in their lives. You will create treatment plans that will allow patients to heal and continue living their lives in the best way possible.
When patients visit a healthcare provider, including a nurse practitioner, it is almost always due to trauma. They might have an acute illness, a chronic condition, severe injury, or be in extreme pain. They are likely anxious and scared about the implications of their concerns, and the nurse practitioner has the opportunity to turn a negative experience into a life-changing one. Nurse practitioners need to be compassionate to their patients and families, especially when dealing with challenging situations, while also acting logically and objectively to help diagnose and treat their problems.
Pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner provides a ton of perks and opportunities for success. You will have the independence and autonomy that is rare in many healthcare professions, allowing you to help your patients to the best of your ability without limitations. You receive the financial benefits of this career path, including a competitive salary, access to fantastic employee benefits, and lower education costs than physicians. Nurse practitioners have endless opportunities for growth and various career path options based on their passions and interests.
You will learn and grow every day, keeping your skills and mind sharp as you stay current with medical technology and science. Last, but certainly not least, you’ll spend your career changing the lives of your patients for the better.