Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide primary care or specialty care to patients of all ages. Because of their advanced education and clinical training, nurse practitioners have a great deal of autonomy and provide many of the same services as physicians within their scope of practice. Nurse practitioners may specialize in family, pediatric, geriatric, women’s health, and many other areas. Employment growth of 26% is expected for registered nurses across the board between 2010 and 2020, but APRNs such as nurse practitioners should experience the best job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for a nurse practitioner was $84,564 in February 2012, according to PayScale.com, but salaries can vary greatly depending on your experience, employer, and other factors. Nurse practitioners typically perform the following job responsibilities:
- Performing patient health assessments
- Diagnosing illnesses and injuries and developing a plan of care for patients
- Ordering and interpreting laboratory and diagnostic tests
- Prescribing medications as necessary
- Educating patients about their medical conditions and their overall health
To become a nurse practitioner, you must have a minimum of a master’s degree. The typical educational path for a nurse practitioner is to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) followed by a Master of Science in Nursing with a nurse practitioner specialization, which incorporates significant clinical training. However, nurses who already have a master’s degree in another area of nursing may complete post-master’s certificates instead, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice may become the standard for nurse practitioners in the future, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). While a Masters in Healthcare Management is not the standard educational path for nurse practitioner preparation, such a degree would be beneficial for nurse practitioners who would like to transition into management or consulting careers. After all, nurse practitioner programs approach nursing from a clinical standpoint, while a healthcare management master’s program explores the business side of health care, such as health care finance, accounting, human resources, and strategic leadership.
Featured Nurse Practitioner Profiles
Over the years, Neuzil has dappled in real estate, construction, fire fighting, building pools, even TV and movie work as an extra (he’s in 11 episodes of “Miami Vice”). But it was nursing that grabbed onto him and never let go. Today, he owns an allergy, sinus, and asthma practice in Central Florida, where he’s developed a saline nasal spray that is now in national distribution.