Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who have completed advanced training and education in a nursing specialty in the form of a master’s degree or doctor’s degree in nursing. Candidates have to pass the state certification exam after completion of an approved NP program in order to get licensed as Nurse Practitioner. Why should one spend time and money to become an APRN when he/she is already earning a ‘fair’ income practicing as a registered nurse? There are pretty ‘fair’ reasons for so.
Specialization: – NP programs are post graduate degree or doctorate degree programs of nursing. You master a specialized field of nursing. Different specializations include pediatrics, family health, gerontology, neonatology, mental health, psychiatry, oncology, women’s health, acute care etc. You no longer remain just a registered nurse; you become a pediatric nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, or a neonatal nurse practitioner. You are at next level in your nursing career, as a specialized nursing professional.
Scope of practice: – You may get a chance to work in a specialized nursing practice being a registered nurse, NP certification equip you with more autonomy. You enjoy a wider scope of practice. Nurse practitioners are allowed to perform a number of functions which are normally ascribed to doctors or physicians. You can collect medical history and conduct physical examination. You can independently perform diagnosis of a patient by ordering diagnostic tests and examining their reports. You are authorized to prescribe medication and allowed to treat patients. In several health care facilities, nurse practitioners are also assigned administrative or nursing management responsibilities. Obviously, your nursing practice will not remain restricted to patient care and will be extended to curing patients. This is a career enhancement, which you might have desired with an inner passion towards nursing and health care services.
Reputation: – Nurse practitioners have come up as an alternative of physicians. They are filling up the lack of physicians and doctors. At most instances, when patients have to wait for two or more days to get appointment with a physician or doctor, they are referred to a nurse practitioner for immediate treatment. In most of the states, NPs do not require working under supervision of a physician. Therefore, you gain more repute as an advance practice nurse.
Independent practice: – Nurse practitioners are in great demand by a variety of health care settings including hospitals, clinics, hospices, nursing homes, health care corporations, etc. Most of the states allow NPs to practice independently. You can choose an employment or open your own clinic.
Higher salary and other benefits: – Nurse practitioner salary begins from $60,000 annually and can be as high as $110, 000 annually. The average annual salary of nurse practitioners is $90,000 whereas average annual salary of registered nurses is $70,000. You get a significant hike in salaries and enjoy other benefits like medical facilities, 401 (k) program, performance bonuses etc. The salaries of nurse practitioners vary according to a number of factors like area of specialization, experience, nursing facility, location of work, assigned duties and role, etc. Nurse practitioners having mental health or emergency care as nursing specialty are generally paid higher, since their practice involves critical skills and risks. Family nurse practitioners are also in high demand. APRN can also engage in part time teaching of nursing education. This allows them earning an additional income.
Maintain Competency: – Nursing and medicine are vast fields and are ever expanding. Nurse practitioner programs allow advancing your knowledge and maintaining professional competency.
How will you become NP -
You have genuine reasons to advance your career a step ahead, so why to delay. To become a nurse practitioner, you will have to complete an accredited nurse practitioner program. There are several NP programs facilitating opportunity of career enhancement to individuals with different nursing and non-nursing background. Different nurse practitioner programs include ADN to MSN bridge programs (which must be taken by candidates who hold an associate degree in nursing), RN to MSN bridge programs (which must be taken by practicing registered nurses who hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing), BSN to MSN bridge programs (which must be taken by practicing registered nurses who have completed bachelor’s degree in nursing), Direct MSN programs (traditional post graduate degrees in a nursing specialty), or Doctor in nursing program. Currently, most of the states accept master’s degree in a nursing specialty as a requirement for NP certification, however, by 2015, most probably; Doctor’s degree in nursing will become minimum educational qualification to pursue a nurse practitioner certification.
Being a NP, you have a better job prospective and can start your own independent practice. You also find fine opportunities in medical research and education.