There are many great reasons to become a nurse practitioner, from good career prospects to high levels of job satisfaction. Demand for nurses is increasing rapidly and is predicted to grow far faster than in many other sectors. Therefore, it is a particularly good time to take steps to advance your career in nursing.
1. Greater responsibility
The role of a nurse practitioner now incorporates greater levels of responsibility than years ago. This is partly due to the severe shortage of physicians in the US. Nurse practitioners are expected to take on a wider range of tasks to meet the demand for health care provision. Without this expansion of responsibilities, patients would face far longer wait times in the current climate. This is particularly true in rural areas, where there are often insufficient physicians to meet the needs of the local populations. Nurse practitioners have more autonomy than registered nurses, and many states have updated their regulations to expand the scope of the roles which nurse practitioners can fill. Nurse practitioners can conduct diagnoses, order tests, prescribe medication and make recommendations for lifestyle changes.
2. High demand
The nurse practitioner role is the fourth fastest-growing occupation in the US. There are plenty of vacancies for nurses at all levels, but nurse practitioners are in particularly high demand because of their additional skills and experience. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for nurse practitioners between 2021 and 2031 will be 40% — significantly above the average occupation growth of 5%. There are over 121,000, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The aging population in the US is a major contributor to the growing demand for health care services. On average, older people tend to have two or more health conditions that ring ongoing medical support. This increased demand for healthcare provision, which is not currently being matched by supply, means greater job security for those in the healthcare sector. Advancing to the nurse practitioner level puts you in an even better position for moving into the roles you aspire to.
3. Rewarding work
The nurse practitioner role frequently appears in lists of the top five best jobs. A key motivator for joining nursing is the desire to help others. Every day your job gives you a chance to touch people’s lives positively, allowing them from illness, manage long-term conditions, or get the support they need to adopt a healthier lifestyle and work towards a more proactive approach to health.
Numerous AANP studies show that the quality of care provided by a physician or a nurse practitioner is comparable. Indeed, when under the supervision of a nurse practitioner rather than a physician, patients can have a reduced likelihood of hospital readmission and avoidable visits to emergency rooms.
As a nurse practitioner, you will likely find your work even more rewarding since you will be open to more opportunities and have discovered from earlier experience exactly what types of work you find most fulfilling. You can therefore follow a career path that matches your preference, whether specializing in pediatrics or research.
4. Career progression
Becoming qualified as a nurse practitioner enables new opportunities and promotions for which you might not have been eligible to apply previously. Placements that are essential to your postgraduate program will broaden your experience and allow you to connect with people in other work settings. Expanding your professional network in this way can help you to be notified when new job opportunities arise that you may wish to apply for. If you would like to move into a managerial position, a Master of Science in Nursing will help you pursue this career advancement. If you decide to change your career path, there will always be opportunities to move into different roles, from primary care to a research department or a policy-making part.
You will need to be a nurse practitioner for some specialist nursing roles. With a Master of Science in Nursing qualification, you will have the option to specialize in a range of areas of care, such as:
- Women’s Health
You can follow your passion if you feel strongly about working in a particular area.
6. Variety of settings
Nurse practitioners are in demand in primary care and various health settings. This gives you plenty of choice of where to work. Over time you can take on roles in different healthcare providers to gain experience. You may find that one area of health care suits you particularly well. Settings include:
- Home care agencies
- Research facilities
- Specialty clinics
- Telehealth agencies
- Urgent care
Becoming a nurse educator may be your vocation if you enjoy sharing knowledge and interacting with students. If you wish to pursue a career in nursing education, you will need to have a Master of Science in Nursing degree as a minimum. With this qualification, you can teach undergraduates at colleges, hospitals, and some universities. While you are studying for your BSN to NP program, you may also find opportunities to become a preceptor for other nurses and undergraduate students. This will allow you to gain useful experience and provide welcome support to others.
With the additional seniority of a nurse practitioner role, you can expect to gain a sizeable increase in financial reward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2021, nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $120,680 per year, with a median base salary of $113,000. The average registered nurse salary in 2021 was considerably lower at $77,600.
The salaries for nurse practitioners can vary, depending to some extent on the role and partly on the setting where you work.
Your postgraduate nursing degree will allow you to work as a nurse in many places, including overseas. It is a wonderful opportunity to travel and gain valuable work experience simultaneously. Contacts you make can broaden your outlook, offer you advice and support in the future, and may turn into friendships you cherish for years to come.
10. Flexible Schedule
People often associate nursing with long shifts and irregular hours. This is true for some roles in nursing; for example, emergency care may be the kind of work you find most rewarding. However, if you need or prefer to work more regular hours, plenty of nursing roles can accommodate this, too, such as working in a research facility or an academic role. With the current shortage of nurses in the healthcare industry, you are in a stronger position to negotiate the hours and work schedule you would like.
Choosing the right degree program
You need to find a degree course that works with your circumstances. Many courses are part-time and flexible, so you can continue working while studying for your new qualification. After each seven-week class, there is one week off, allowing you time to consolidate your learning and take a break before embarking on the next period.
A BSN to NP program will usually offer you a range of specialist options, allowing you to pursue the area of nursing you feel most passionate about. For example, the BSN to Nurse Practitioner Program from Spring Arbor University has four Track options available:
- Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners will be expected to have several years of work experience in less senior roles, for example, working as registered nurses. This experience, combined with a Master of Science in Nursing, gives you a wealth of knowledge and expertise to draw on when providing excellent patient healthcare services. The value and competence of nurse practitioners are so widely recognized that in many states, they are authorized to run their medical practice without needing support from a physician. Whatever reasons you have for becoming a Nurse Practitioner, you can be sure it will lead to a highly rewarding career.