The 9 Best Things About Being a Nurse Practitioner

Now is a great time to be a nurse practitioner. Demand is soaring, the work to give NPs full practice authority in every state and territory is advancing, and their influence on health care delivery can’t be overstated.

Across the nation, NPs and their colleagues will be celebrating National Nurse Practitioner Week, November 10-16, 2019.

“Nurse practitioners lead quality, accessible, affordable, 21st-century health care—that is the message we want to broadcast this NP Week,” asserted Jessica Peck, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, CNE, CNL, FAANP, clinical professor at Baylor University and president-elect at National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP).1. Job security

An aging population and the Affordable Care Act are creating a soaring demand for health care services—especially for primary care, making nurse practitioner jobs easily found in most parts of the country

In August 2019, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reported that more than 270,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) are currently licensed to practice in the United States. This number has increased by 125% since 2007 when there were an estimated 120,000 NPs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting a 31 percent growth rate for NPs and other advanced practice nursing jobs over the next decade.

2. Job satisfaction
U.S. News & World Report recently ranked a nurse practitioner career as No. 7 on its list of the country’s 100 Best Jobs. Factors such as pay, work-life balance, advancement opportunities, and others that could be summarized as job satisfaction were key to the rankings.

Lynn Rapsilber, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, FAANP, who serves as the AANP state representative for Connecticut, reflected on her transition from working as a registered nurse to a nurse practitioner.

“As a nurse, you always were in charge of your patients, but as an NP you have an expanded role in the decision-making process and in developing the treatment plan,” she explained. “You are partnering with that patient to get them to the highest level of wellness that they can achieve.” 

3. Making a difference for individuals and communities
“NPs are the answer to the primary care physician shortage,” stated Rapsilber. “The number of NPs is growing exponentially and NPs are often willing to serve in rural areas that MDs don’t want to go to.

In fact, more than 70 percent of nurse practitioners are working in primary care, as opposed to less than 50 percent of physicians, including MDs and DOs. 

4. Professional and personal flexibility
A nurse practitioner career offers flexibility in specialty and work settings.

“NPs can be found in outpatient and inpatient care, in prisons, nursing homes, universities, corporations, research, and insurance. Because NPs are population-focused, we can traverse the health care system having the flexibility to be employed or create and own businesses which gives us more control over our work-life balance,” noted Rapsilber.

Additionally, NPs have the option to take on locum tenens assignments. As a locum tenens, an NP can decide on the number of hours they want to work in a week or even a month. Locum nurse practitioner jobs can be close to home, or provide the ability to travel and experience new places while on assignment. 

5. Direct patient care
Talk to any nurse practitioner and they will likely tell you that their favorite part of the job is working directly with patients.

“I love working with patients. Making a positive impact on families is enough to get me back every day. I love that they can come to me with their questions and concerns and that I can offer preventative care and help them have healthier families,” effused Peck.

6.  Encouraging more states to legislate full practice authority
While 22 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories give NPs full practice authority, there is still plenty of work to do to gain the same authority nationwide. Many NPs are working to educate state legislators and to change policy so that NPs everywhere can practice to the full scope of their education and training.

“Some states arbitrarily restrict the practice. Interestingly, those states with the most restrictions on NP practice consistently rate among the poorest on health outcomes, access to care, and geographic disparities to care,” explained Peck. 

7. Improving the delivery of health care, now and in the future
As an NP you are able to not only improve health care for individual patients on a daily basis, but you have the ability to improve health care for entire populations of patients over time.

“One of my students established a telehealth system to care for undocumented, medically fragile pediatric patients whose families were fearful to travel for health care,” Peck said. “Instead of implementing a treatment protocol for one patient, you create that protocol for a whole community.” 

8. A holistic approach to patient care
“MDs and PAs have a more disease-focus approach to health care. Nursing is unique because it is holistic. We focus on populations and look more at the social determinants of health,” remarked Peck.

Rapsilber added, “Unless you know the details of a patient’s life, you can’t always know what treatment plan will work for them.” 

9. A career for the 21st century, with great growth potential
“Because we take our nursing training and then go straight into our specialty, NPs are able to deliver timely care in an innovative way. More than other health care fields we are able to adapt quickly to changes in technology and populations while maintaining quality.” Peck explained.

“Additionally, as barriers to full practice authority are removed, there are more opportunities for NPs to own and run their own clinics,” said Rapsilber who provides business consulting for nurses. “The career opportunities for NPs are quickly expanding.”

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