Originally named physician extenders, nurse practitioners were developed in the late 1950’s as a solution to a shortage of doctors in impoverished rural areas of the United States.
After the creation of Medicaid and Medicare, thousands of low income families including senior citizens and children were suddenly eligible for care.
To meet the demand for skilled care providers that could provide high quality care, the government expanded the role of the most qualified nurses available to fill the need as practitioners.
Today, the role of the nurse practitioner has evolved into a career that offers the highest quality care in specialty fields such as women’s health, family care, and labor and delivery.
If you are interested in a career as a compassionate, critical thinking, care-giver, the field of nurse practitioner may be for you. ;D
What are the Job Duties of a Nurse Practitioner?
The duties of a nurse practitioner vary greatly depending on your chosen clinical specialization. In general, practitioners focus on holistic care for their patients on an individual basis and basic duties include:
- Diagnosis illness in patients
- Provide treatment for illness and injury
- Order and interpret diagnostic tests
- Educate patients about illness, recovery, and mediation
- Prescribe and monitor medications
- Interpret medical histories and records
- Additional duties may be required depending on your specialization.
Nurse Practitioner Salary And Career Guide – Education
Nurse practitioners must earn an advanced degree in practical nursing. Depending on the field specialization, most students earn a MSN or Master of Science in nursing degree.
Under most circumstances, students earn a four year bachelor’s degree in nursing and apply to a master’s degree program upon successful completion.
The master’s degree is normally completed in two years and can be earned in a specific discipline such as women’s health or labor and delivery.
For those starting a journey as a nurse practitioner, there are many options in obtaining the needed education. Candidates must first choose a bachelor’s degree program in nursing. Options include:
- BSN – This four year degree for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing involves two years of basic core credits followed by two years of nursing courses.
- LPN – A licensed practical nurse can enter a BSN program to complete the educational requirements.
- RN – A registered nurse with an Associate’s Degree can earn a four year degree.
To prepare candidates for a career as a nurse practitioner, core courses include genetics, health promotion, genomics, biology, and physiology. Students can choose more specialized coursework upon enrolling in the master’s degree program of their choice.
While the master’s degree program is generally just two years, it can also be the most academically rigorous step in becoming a nurse practitioner. Candidates declare and start working towards a specialization in the nursing field which may include:
- Health care ethics – courses under this major are designed for nurse practitioners to become leaders in the legal and ethical issues surrounding health care and focus on healthy patient relationships.
- Polices of health care – coursework focuses on the actual delivery of health care and the political ramifications involved.
- Pharmacology – candidates specialize in prescription medications, drug trials, interactions with other drugs, and side effects.
- Theory and practice – a group of courses required by most nurse practitioner programs, candidates study historical theories of medicine and how they relate to patients.
Graduation from the Master’s Degree program does not guarantee eligibility to become a nurse practitioner. Upon completion, candidates for the degree must apply to take and pass the national certification exam.
Next, candidates must become certified for practice by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP). Criteria for certification are different for each state, but the majority of states require the candidate to complete board- approved courses and pass an exam.
While a doctorate is not required to be a nurse practitioner, the Doctorate of Nursing Practice, DNP is available.
This eight year program prepares candidates for a career as a clinical provider and is not recommended for those who wish to work solely in research.
This credential can help all practitioners to stand out among their peers and can help secure a promotion.
Nurse Practitioner Median Annual Salary
Not only do nurse practitioners enjoy minimal competition for jobs and exceeding high growth rates in their field, they also enjoy some of the highest salaries available in the nursing field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2015-16, the median salary for nurse practitioners nationwide is $99,326.
As this is a national average, salaries may vary from location to location.
When compared to median annual salaries for other fields of nursing, the practitioner’s is significantly higher. Also cited in the same occupation handbook for 2015-16, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median annual salary for a registered nurse as $65,470. 😉
Salaries for nurse practitioners are significantly higher. The salary for the nurse practitioner matches the salary of a nurse midwife which requires the same educational requirement.
Nurse Practitioner Salary And Career Guide – Employment Options
If you are considering becoming a nurse practitioner, you will enjoy a wide variety of employment options. Positions in this field are not limited to hospitals and can include positions in:
- Doctor’s offices
- State facilities
- Outpatient centers
- Non-profit agencies
- Home health and hospice
State law determines the level of supervision you must have in a medical position. Many states require nurse practitioners to be supervised directly or indirectly by a licensed physician while other states do not.
Long Term Career Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to rise an astounding 34 percent until 2022. 🙂
As the nation is already facing a shorting of registered and practical nurses, long term growth in employment is imminent in this field.