If you have ever considered a career in medicine, particularly within the nursing field, a great occupation to consider is becoming a nurse practitioner. A Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced training in diagnosing and treating various diseases and illnesses within patients. With enhanced educational credentials, nurse practitioners are licensed to do things that typical nurses cannot do. This includes prescribing common medications, diagnosing a range of diseases and illnesses, as well as being allowed to conduct certain physical exams on patients. However, the key distinction between nurse practitioners and physicians is that typically NPs focus on disease prevention and comprehensive health education. Here is an overview of the nurse practitioner career.
What type of education credentials do I need to become a NP?
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have obtained at least bachelor's and a master's degree. For starters, every prospective practitioner will need to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school. After two to three years of solid RN experience in a hospital or private physician setting, RNs can than move to enroll into a master's degree in nursing program that will prepare them to be nurse practitioners. A Master of Science in Nursing is the typically the most common degree that is required to become a practitioner. Although it is the most common degree for prospective NPs to obtain in the field, in the near future, it might be required for NPs to to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
What can I specialize in as a NP?
Nurse practitioners have the ability to specialize in a wide variety of different fields. They include:
- Acute Care
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care
- Adult Gerontology Primary Care
- Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health
- Pediatric Primary Care
- Psychiatric-Mental Health
What are salaries like for nurse practitioners?
Nurse practitioners enjoy pretty nice salaries as medical professionals. According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a NP is around $96,000 in 2014. NPs in larger metropolitan cities with a good amount of experience can even make up to $150,000 depending on education and specialty. Salaries will be contingent upon geographic location, employer, size of employer, specialty, education and years of experience. Obviously, nurse practitioners in larger areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., will make much higher salaries compared to a NP in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Generally speaking, NPs who specialize in a high demand area like oncology, neurology or cardiology will see much higher salaries. The United States Department of Labor expects salaries for NPS to rise by 0.3 percent next year. As an occupation, demand is also expected to rise by 1.1 percent.
Do not let the fear of school and education stop you from fully pursuing your dreams of becoming a highly qualified and experienced practitioner. It may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it will definitely pay off when you receive a lucrative position at a large hospital or medical organization. Nurse practitioners hold high esteem in medical organizations such as a career can be used as a foundation to move into healthcare administration.