If you want to care for a particular group of people, such as seniors, children or those with mental issues, you can consider a career as a nurse practitioner (NP). In this profession, you assess patients and find ways to manage their condition. You can prescribe medications and order laboratory exams. You will also be consulting with doctors and other members of a patient’s healthcare team when necessary. Together with nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives, you are categorized as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) as a nurse practitioner.
Since you will be prescribing treatment to patients, you need to be responsible and have the capacity to pay attention to small details, such as any change in the patient’s condition. As you most likely hold a senior position in your departments, you need to possess outstanding leadership skills as well. Like any nurse, you also need to be compassionate and kind to patients under your care.
One reason to become a nurse practitioner is that becoming one is a sign of advancement in your career as a registered nurse. As an APRN, you have the chance to hold leadership positions in your place of work as well as get the opportunity to work in the academe and teach aspiring nurses. The pay is also higher as a nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Work Environment
Nurse practitioners and other APRNs work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, colleges and schools and offices of other healthcare practitioners. Those working in physician’s offices and universities often follow regular business hours. However, those employed with hospitals can work weekends, holidays and nights. They may also be on-call. The work itself can expose nurse practitioners to infections and injuries as they deal with patients with contagious diseases or lift those with injuries. The stress level of an APRN is also higher compared to staff nurses as their work typically involves critical decision-making.
Nurse Practitioner Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of nurse practitioners is $95,070. Nurse midwives received a slightly lower wage at $92,230 while nurse anesthetists were paid much higher at $157,690.
Nurse Practitioner Career Outlook
The job outlook of APRNs is quite rosy. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives is projected to grow 31 percent in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022. This will stem from the increase in demand for healthcare services due to new healthcare legislation, the aging baby boom population and the fact that state laws are evolving to allow APRNs to perform more services.
Nurse Practitioner Degree
The road towards becoming a nurse practitioner starts with bachelor’s degree in nursing. After obtaining the degree, the nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination in order to become a licensed registered nurse. In order to become a nurse practitioner, the licensed RN must earn a master’s degree specific to the role. A period of clinical experience is often required before one can pursue postgraduate studies to become an APRN. A lot of APRNs also pursue Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD degrees. Most states also require APRNs to be certified before they can officially be designated as APRNs.