Is a Career as a Nurse Practitioner Right for You

Choosing a career can be a daunting process. Even when you’ve got your heart set on a particular role, it’s important to do your research and find out exactly what the job entails. While it can be tricky to gain experience in some fields, learning more about roles within the industry gives you the chance to discover what type of career you’re best suited to.

If you’re eager to join the medical community, for example, you might be considering qualifying as a nurse practitioner. To determine whether this could be the right career for you, take a look at some of the key facts about working as a nurse practitioner:

1. You Can Specialize in a Particular Field

As a nurse practitioner, or NP, you’ll have the opportunity to specialize and work with patients within a particular demographic. Some NPs work solely with seniors and provide elderly or geriatric care, for example, whereas others focus on pediatrics and younger patients. The most popular specialty within the field is as a Family Nurse Practitioner. In addition to this, you may choose a subspecialty, such as cardiovascular health, oncology or dermatology.

2. Your Role Depends on Your Location

The remit of a nurse practitioner depends on which state you choose to practice in. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners divides states into three categories:

  • Full practice
  • Reduced practice
  • Restricted practice

While full practice states enable NPs to assess, diagnose and provide treatments to patients, restricted practice requires NPs to have direct supervision or management in at least one area of NP practice.

3. You’ll Need a Master’s Degree

While some NPs still enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree, the vast majority of Nurse Practitioners hold a master’s degree. Often, candidates will complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and gain experience as an RN before enrolling in a Master of Science in Nursing program.

As online learning opportunities have become more varied, a significant proportion of candidates now choose to study online. This can sometimes be combined with full or part-time work, which means you can continue to gain experience and generate an income while progressing to the next stage of your career.

In addition to completing a Master of Science in Nursing, candidates may choose to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This is an advanced degree and is often seen as the terminal degree for an aspiring NP, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

4. You’ll Always Be Learning

If you love to learn, then a career in medicine and healthcare could be just what you’re looking for. While every day is a learning opportunity, you’ll also be required to undertake continuous education (CE) training and courses.

NPs must obtain state licensure and certification before they can practice, and continuing education is critical to ensure your licensure remains valid. While every accreditation body has their own regulations, it’s not unusual for a nurse practitioner to be required to complete at least 1,000 hours of continuing education every year or to take an annual examination. Read more here about what becoming a nurse practitioner involves.

5. You’ll Be Helping Your Community

No matter what specialty you choose or what state you decide to work in, being a nurse practitioner means you will be a valuable part of your community. The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for more people to seek medical help when they need it, which means nurse practitioners are in demand all over the country.

Your daily tasks may include providing evidence-based health education to help patients take a proactive role in improving their health, diagnosing acute or chronic conditions, ordering diagnostic tests to be carried out, performing minor procedures and prescribing medication to patients who need it.

Often, a nurse practitioner is a patient’s first port of call, so you’ll be delivering primary care to your patients, as well as long-term follow-ups and treatment management. For people who want to work in the medical community and have a significant amount of interaction with patients, becoming a nurse practitioner could be the ideal role.

Pursuing a Career as a Nurse Practitioner

Although there is a significant amount of training involved in becoming a nurse practitioner, the role is hugely rewarding and satisfying. By gaining practical experience as an RN, completing your Master of Science in Nursing and obtaining the appropriate certifications and licenses, you can ensure that you have the qualifications and skills you need to operate as a competent and caring nurse practitioner.

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