Nursing is widely considered to be one of the most rewarding and meaningful career options worldwide. Working as a nurse allows you to spend each day looking after people who need help and support, making a real difference in the lives of the patients that you will be working with on a daily basis, and helping their families feel calmer and more in control when their loved one has been injured or fallen sick. In addition to being a caring career that focuses on helping others, nursing is also a career that allows for a lot of career advancement and progression with several advanced roles to consider for nurses who want to climb the career ladder.
If you are already working as a registered nurse, want to progress in your career but would rather stay in a role where you continue to be on the front line of healthcare and play an important role in treating patients directly, working as a nurse practitioner could be the right option for you.
Nurse practitioners are highly advanced nurses that are awarded full practice authority in twenty US states. This permits nurse practitioners to fulfil many of the same tasks as a primary care physician including treating, diagnosing, and prescribing without the need to be supervised or signed off by a medical doctor. Because of this and the fact that there is a shortage of primary care physicians across the US right now due to fewer medical students getting into this area, nurse practitioners are stepping in to fill the gap and ensure the continuation of primary care to patients. Here are some of the top reasons to consider working as a nurse practitioner.
Currently, nurse practitioners are some of the highest in-demand healthcare professionals right now, which makes it one of the best times to consider getting into this career path. More and more healthcare employers need nurse practitioners to fill the gap that has been left by the dwindling numbers of primary care physicians. If you are currently working as a nurse, you may be able to find work as a nurse practitioner with your current employer, and they are also hired by doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, retail clinics, and other healthcare organizations along with the ability to set up and run their own clinics independently in states where they have full practice authority.
More Work Opportunities:
Any area of nursing is ideal for finding work right now, with several work opportunities on offer due to a shortage of nurses that is driving demand. Nurse practitioners are in even more demand than registered nurses, to put this into perspective. As a result, finding work as a nurse practitioner may even be easier than getting work as a registered nurse, with more employment opportunities to consider in a wide range of areas. Another great thing about working as a nurse practitioner is that even though you have qualified and gotten your license to work as an advanced nurse, nurse practitioners are also able to continue working as a registered nurse alongside their advanced role, which gives them more options to find work. In addition to the nurse practitioner role, the qualifications that you need to work in this position may also lead to further advanced career paths in the nursing field including nurse education, nurse leadership, and nurse management.
Choose From Various Speciality Areas:
Nurse practitioners can choose from a wide variety of different areas depending on what they are the most interested in and where they would prefer to work. As a nurse practitioner, you can choose to work with certain populations or patients with certain diseases and conditions, such as mental health or cancer. After getting a master’s degree in nursing that is designed to get you into the role of a nurse practitioner, such as this RN to NP degree program from Wilkes University, you can choose to focus your education on a wide range of different areas including family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, oncology nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, surgical nurse practitioner, retail health nurse practitioner, and more.
Great Salary Outlook:
Qualifying and working as a nurse practitioner also gives you the opportunity to potentially significantly improve the amount of money that you are able to earn. Compared to working as a registered nurse, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that nurse practitioners earn around $30k per year extra. Some roles may pay even more depending on where you are located and the type of work that you do in this role. The role of a neonatal nurse practitioner, for example, is one of the most specialized options, meaning that salaries are often higher.
Further Your Career:
Although working as a nurse practitioner might be a main career advancement opportunity for nurses who are looking to progress in their careers, this isn’t where it stops. If you want to continue climbing the career ladder after becoming a nurse practitioner, there are still plenty of advanced nursing careers that you might consider getting into afterwards. Many nurse practitioners who advance their careers get into roles such as nurse management or nurse leadership. Currently, nurse practitioners who want to progress are being urged to get into nurse education, with a lack of educators in the US being one of the main reasons why we are dealing with such a problematic shortage.
Interesting Work and the Chance to Learn:
Just like registered nursing, working as a nurse practitioner provides you with interesting, fast-paced work where there is always the chance to learn something new. In this role, you are going to be working with a wide range of different patients on a daily basis depending on your area of specialty. As a nurse practitioner, you are going to be in a role where no two days are the same and there will always be a reason to update your skills and knowledge whether you’re learning about new policies, new treatments, new equipment, or the development of new diseases.
What do You Need to Become a Nurse Practitioner?
Whether you’re just getting started in your pathway to a nursing career or are currently working as a nurse and want to make your way up the career ladder and get into a lucrative role as a nurse practitioner, you will need the following:
Qualify as a Registered Nurse:
The first step in becoming a nurse practitioner is to qualify as a registered nurse with a BSN. While you can get an associate degree in nursing to become a registered nurse, the BSN is typically recommended for aspiring future nurse practitioners since it is usually the minimum required qualification to get onto training programs for this role or to take a master’s degree in nursing. Along with easier progression into nurse practitioner roles, there are many further benefits of getting a BSN to get started in your nursing career or if you are already a nurse who does not have this degree. More and more healthcare employers are now looking to hire nurses who are BSN-educated as studies have found that with just an additional 10% of BSN-educated nurses in the workforce, the positive effects on patient outcomes are significant.
Get Nursing Experience:
If you have recently qualified as a registered nurse, you will typically be required to gain some nursing experience before you can be accepted to study on a nursing master’s degree or a postgraduate training program designed to prepare you to be a nurse practitioner. Since the role of a nurse practitioner is highly advanced and specialized, most employers are looking for applicants who have a lot of nursing experience. So, this role isn’t something that you can get into straight away after becoming a registered nurse and you will usually need to work in this role for at least a few years before you’re ready to move up the ladder. In addition to preparing you for the role, getting as much nursing experience as you can also gives you the chance to work in different areas of nursing and healthcare, which ultimately makes it easier for you to choose a specialty area that you might prefer in the nurse practitioner role.
Get an Advanced Degree:
With nursing experience behind you along with your BSN, you can choose from several advanced degree programs that will prepare you for working as a nurse practitioner. For the most part, a master’s degree in nursing will be the minimum requirement for you to work as a nurse practitioner. You can become a nurse practitioner after gaining a general master’s degree in nursing or you may want to consider specially-designed master’s programs with a curriculum that helps you get into this career specifically. After getting an advanced nursing degree, you may also want to consider a range of postgraduate certificates that are designed to train you to become a nurse practitioner and focus on a range of specialty areas that you might be interested in.
Getting a License:
To work as a nurse practitioner in your home state, you will need to apply for an advanced nursing license, which involves an exam that is similar to the NCLEX. These exams and licenses are provided by a range of different licensing bodies, so it’s a wise idea to find out which one applies to your state while you are preparing.
Where Can You Find Work As a Nurse Practitioner?
Once you have achieved the above, there are various places where you can find work as a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are in high demand for primary care, with many family nurse practitioners working in doctor’s offices to directly reduce the impact of the shortage of primary care physicians. Nurse practitioners that work in states where they are permitted full practice authority are also able to start their own independent clinics, that may focus on primary care or a certain specialty area of healthcare. Some nurse practitioners focus on women’s health, for example, while others provide care to children and infants. Nurse practitioners can also work in a wide range of other healthcare areas including hospitals, outpatient clinics, specialist care departments, and more.
More About the Nurse Practitioner Role:
Along with being an important part of primary healthcare today, nurse practitioners also act as advocates for their patients. To be successful in this role, you will need a range of skills including excellent communication skills, organization and management, leadership skills, and a willingness to continue learning to name a few.
Nurse practitioners don’t just diagnose conditions and provide treatments and prescriptions to patients. They are often heavily involved in providing counseling and advice to promote preventative care, which is having the desired impact as studies suggest that patients who are under the care of nurse practitioners will often have lower readmission rates and fewer reinfections. Nurse practitioners are also often involved in healthcare policy and will often be found communicating with policymakers to ensure that the latest healthcare policies are created and introduced with the best interests of the patients in mind at all times. They spend time listening to what patients want and what they think is currently lacking in the healthcare industry to ensure that this is kept in mind when it comes to the latest healthcare policies.
For nurses who want more responsibilities and autonomy in their role, working as a nurse practitioner can be the ideal choice of career progression opportunity. Nurse practitioners are currently in very high demand as primary care practitioners, and this has led to even further benefits of working in this role including generous salaries, high job security, more opportunities to find work and further progression opportunities, and more.
For current registered nurses who are looking for a change in their career, working as a nurse practitioner can be the ideal choice. Whether you want to work in primary care or specialize in a certain type of patient or condition, there’s never been a better time to consider becoming a nurse practitioner.