6 Reasons You Should Become a Nurse Practitioner

This is a contributed post.

After working a few years as a registered nurse, many will begin to wonder if they should pursue further education to become a nurse practitioner. In this role, they can complete many of the same duties as a physician. While becoming a nurse practitioner requires extra time and money by getting a higher degree, there are many benefits to choosing this advanced career.

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More Job Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2012 and 2022 this field is expected to grow 31 percent — faster than average for most industries. There are several factors that play a role in this rising demand for nurse practitioners. First, recent health care legislation means that many new people have health insurance, and there will be an increased number of people seeking the preventive care that nurse practitioners can offer. Additionally, an aging population means that more people will need care for ailments and conditions that can strike the elderly.

Better Pay

While the BLS reports that 2012 annual pay for registered nurses was a decent $65,470, the salary for nurse practitioners is a substantial $96,460 a year. On top of that, the top 10 percent of earners take home more than $161,030. Higher pay isn’t the only benefit that nurse practitioners enjoy. They commonly work for employers that offer childcare, education credits, and flexible work schedules.

Greater Responsibilities

Nurse practitioners enjoy greater responsibilities than registered nurses. Not only are they able to prescribe medication, they can order lab work and x-rays to help diagnose illnesses and treat patients. As a result, 16 states and Washington, D.C. allow nurse practitioners to work independently of a doctor. In fact, many nurse practitioners even choose to open their own clinics. Out of the estimated 150,000 nurse practitioners in the country, about 1,000 of them work in nurse-managed clinics. All together, there are about 250 health clinics around the country run solely by nurse practitioners.

More Flexibility

Nurse practitioners are able to work in a variety of medical settings including private practices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and schools. One area where nurse practitioners are in high demand is in rural communities. With nearly 90 percent of physicians working in urban areas, there are large sections of the country that are left underserved by medical professionals. As a result, many programs exist to help nurse practitioners pay for their education costs in exchange for working in these rural communities. The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program is an example of one available to nurses. Through this program, nurses are able to receive up to $60,000 in loan repayment money in exchange for two years of work.

Ability to Offer Better Care

While doctors aren’t always known for their good bedside manner, nurses tend to excel at it. In fact, data has shown that patients are very happy with the service they receive from nurse practitioners. There are even some areas, such as birthing and controlling blood glucose levels, where nurse practitioners have better patient satisfaction than doctors. Additionally, nurse practitioners not only work with patients, they also help their families by answering questions and going over the different treatment options that are available.

More Specialization Opportunities

Nurse practitioners are able to focus on one area of specialization as they continue to further their career. One lucrative option is to specialize in geriatric care. This niche is in high demand as the population continues to age. In this field, nurses are responsible for providing care and treatment to the elderly. They are often able to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and for home health care provider companies. The average salary for a nurse practitioner specializing in geriatric care is around $75,000 a year.

The decision on whether to seek further education and become a nurse practitioner isn’t one that’s taken lightly. However, should you choose to do so, you know you’ll have the opportunity to better serve your community while also enjoying the excellent benefits that come along with this exciting career.

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