This field is projected to be the second-fastest growing position (an increase of 52%!) across all industries over the next ten years.
Nurse Practitioners have many of the same responsibilities as doctors, from diagnosing illnesses to prescribing medication. Autonomy in decision making depends on city and state guidelines. In 20 states, nurse practitioners can operate with “full practice authority” or practice without a medical doctor’s supervision.
What nurse practitioners do on a daily basis depends on the specialty they select.
For example, Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) may work in high-pressure, high-reward environments like an emergency room or short-term care facility. They are trained to make difficult, potentially life-altering decisions on behalf of the patient. Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP), on the other hand, work with patients of all ages and perform the same functions as your family doctor.
Where a nurse practitioner works depends on whether or not they select a specialty. There are only a few specialties that aren’t open to a nurse practitioner, such as surgery. Nurse practitioners work in emergency rooms, urgent care, family clinics, and hospice centers, as well as many of the specialty clinics–including psychiatry, oncology, rheumatology, and more.
Because nurse practitioners can do many of the things doctors can do, they’ve been used to fill the medical doctor gap we face in the United States. A benefit to the position’s high demand is that many employers are willing to pay a healthy portion of education costs in exchange for an agreement to spend an allotted amount of time with the organization post-certification.
Many prospective medical students see the high bar for being accepted into a medical school, the amount of debt accumulated, and the delay in securing a well-paying job (in other words, three years of residency), and a role as a nurse practitioner looks quite attractive.
The education paths to enter this program are a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) followed by an RN-to-MSN program, or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree plus a Masters Entry Program in Nursing (or MEPN).
End-to-end, you’re looking at a minimum of six years of education (minus specialty training). When compared to a medical student’s eight years of schooling (minus specialty training) plus three years of residency and multiple board exams, a nurse practitioner role is often a lower cost, high reward alternative.