Patients are turning to the many health services a nurse practitioner (NP) can provide as the clinical approach to healthcare shifts to a focus on a person’s overall well-being rather than on a specific area of care.
Disease prevention, health education and counseling and promotion of good health are all part of a nurse practitioner’s goals and are aimed at lowering patients’ health-related expenses when combined with a nurse practitioner’s ability to also diagnose and treat.
The philosophical difference between NPs who emphasize a patient’s overall well-being and that of other healthcare providers who may have a less broad-based approach can often translate into higher patient satisfaction.
As America faces a shortage of healthcare providers, NPs have an important role as mentors, researchers, administrators and educators. Their brand of patient-centered healthcare has them working in every community in the country, be it rural or urban, and across the entire range of America’s healthcare facilities, from hospitals to public health departments and college campuses.
Sometimes, nurse practitioners are also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) because they are able to offer primary and specialty health care as well as coordinate the execution of patient care.
One thing that does not vary much across the United States, however, is the need for more NPs to enter the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the need for nurse practitioners will drive job growth by 35% through 2024, spurred by legislation to expand insurance coverage, demand for care from an aging Baby Boomer generation and the growing emphasis on preventative care.
That translates into 44,700 new nurse practitioners.
The BLS anticipates robust job growth for two nurse practitioner specializations as well – nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists.
Through 2024, the BLS estimates job growth of 25% for nurse midwives and 19% for nurse anesthetists.
According to the BLS, the average annual wage of a nurse practitioner was $98,190 in May 2015.
Nearly half work in doctors’ offices, the BLS said, and more than one in four work at hospitals, the second largest employer of nurse practitioners.
Those working in hospitals had the highest average pay of $111,080, while NPs in offices of physicians had an average salary of $104,150 according to the BLS.
In May 2015, nurse midwives had an average pay of $92,510. Nurse anesthetists were paid an average of $157,140, the BLS said.
Education and Certifications
Nurse practitioners must have at least a
In order to practice, NPs must receive national certification and undergo clinical outcome evaluations, periodic peer reviews and obey the laws of ethical practice. Continued education is an important part of this career path, as updating clinical competency is an ongoing task of the nurse practitioner. Some states have specific continuing education requirements for nurse practitioners beyond those of a registered nurse.
In addition to these duties, some NPs conduct research and operate healthcare forums to lead meaningful discussion about their practice.