Have you ever had to wait months to see your doctor? Or have you noticed the primary physician you’ve been going to for years now has a team of nurse practitioners working in her practice? This is because there aren’t enough doctors in the United States. Each doctor likely takes care of thousands of patients regularly. So what can be done about this? The role of the nurse practitioner is filling this gap– but why nurse practitioners?
Nurse practitioners (NPs) offer well-rounded and patient-centered care. In this article, we’ll review 10 reasons why being a nurse practitioner is a fulfilling career option.
Nurse practitioners are high-level, medical providers that assess, diagnose, and treat patients of all types. They’re quickly becoming the primary care provider of choice for many Americans because of their role and care models.
Nurse practitioners focus on disease management as well as health promotion and prevention. They’re also more open to holistic health and offering more education. These aspects offer a very different approach from a medical doctor, making nurse practitioners effective partners in healthcare, too.
There are focused degree options you can specialize in, including:
There are so many opportunities for nurse practitioners, especially given the current physician shortage. Nurse practitioners can work in hospitals, clinics, specialty offices, home care, etc. This versatility, in conjunction with the increase in demand for the role, allows nurse practitioners to make career changes throughout their lives and oftentimes without extra schooling.
A nurse practitioner can also work as what’s called a locum tenens provider. This is basically a travel nurse but for medical providers and the role functions much the same way. This opportunity involves working under contract for certain periods of time for different clinics or organizations before moving on to another. These contracts can range from weeks to months, or even years.
This offers traveling opportunities throughout the country and even the world with some locum tenens providers working in places like Egypt. This can be an exciting way to grow your practice, gain experience, and develop greater skills while getting to see the world!
Nurse practitioners are inherently leaders in the healthcare industry because their role is similar to that of medical doctors. However, they can also serve as more designated leaders. This can include positions such as:
So why nurse practitioner? Because they also make intuitive preceptors for other nurses, nurse practitioners, and students. Plus, their increased experience and comprehensive education and training allow them to be more involved in things like policy change regarding healthcare legislation, than registered nurses.
There are also plenty of work-from-home opportunities for nurse practitioners. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual care has grown dramatically and is available in fields like:
A lot of these positions are not possible for other healthcare workers, like registered nurses or medical assistants, who are required to be more hands-on with their patients. This is a huge benefit of becoming a nurse practitioner, especially since the virtual care world has expanded like never before.
As we mentioned above, and unlike the hospital work that most registered nurses do, many nurse practitioners work in settings other than a hospital. These settings offer more flexibility so you have more control over your schedule. This can be very beneficial for people with children and family members to care for, or for those who simply have other commitments outside of work or wish for a solid work-life balance.
Some people think you can only work in primary care or maybe in a hospital as a nurse practitioner, but that’s not true. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of nurse practitioners working in specialties increased by 22%. This can include ANY specialty, for example:
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) have to pick a specialty early on in their education (like some medical doctors do). Therefore, they get a broad, holistic education that especially equips them to transition between specialties with ease. Plus, most clinics won’t require any extra training either.
Nurse practitioners work with a variety of patients, including newborns, the elderly, well and chronically diseased adults, pregnant people, and everything in between. Because of this training, nurse practitioners are prepared to work anywhere, not just in primary care. Other settings that nurse practitioners can work in include:
… and more!
Merritt Hawkins, a prominent healthcare consulting firm, found the average nurse practitioner salary increased by five percent in 2017 to $123,000 (from $ 117,000 in 2016). As of 2022, the average salary of a nurse practitioner has risen to almost $140,000 with the highest salary being $180,000. The average salary in the U.S. is just $52,000, making an NP’s salary extremely competitive and therefore, a large career benefit.
As of 2021, there were 320,000 nurse practitioners in the United States. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of nurse practitioners will increase by 34% from 2012 to 2022.” This is nearly three times the national growth average for other occupations. So, despite some growing pains and the continued high levels of stress in the healthcare field, experts see the role of the nurse practitioner continuing to expand in the coming years.
Now you know why nurse practitioner? You’ve discovered a little more about what makes the role of a nurse practitioner GREAT, so are you ready to take that next step and start your journey? Check out United States University's nurse practitioner programs to learn more about our unique programs.
If you’re still not sure if it’s right for you, check out The American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ website for more information. There, you’ll find details about the role itself, the career outlook, the opportunities for a career in the future, and so much more information that can help you decide if becoming a nurse practitioner is the right career move for you.
Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, yoga teacher, and nurse writer who specializes in articles, blogging, and copy. She has been in nursing since 2014, working in intensive care, women’s health, and primary care as a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner. She has written for a variety of publications including Rncareers.org, Moxie Scrubs, Aspen University, and more. She is also the winner of the 2020 Shift Report writing contest for Next Level Nursing. Her specialty topics include mental health, health and wellness, yoga philosophy and practice, and community health. She also serves as a mental health coach primarily to other nurses and healthcare workers concerning healthy lifestyles and mental health.