Nurse Practitioner

As health care accessibility expands, the need for knowledgeable and licensed professionals will grow with it. A direct result of the industry expansion that's come on the heels of President Obama's health care law is that the nursing profession has been thrust into even higher demand than it was before. Nurse practitioners are poised to form the backbone of this development. 

Nurse practitioners are among the most logistically significant roles in the health care industry today. As demand for care providers rises, doctors will likely experience difficulty meeting the needs of their growing patient bases. As a result, doctors and patients alike may come to rely more heavily on these professionals to serve as an intermediary between patients and providers, and helping doctors better bear the increasing patient load. 

helping doctors better bear the increasing patient load. 

The role of nurse practitioner falls somewhere on the spectrum between registered nurse and doctor. Like nurses, they work closely with patients from a wellness and preventive standpoint to encourage health. However, they have additional training and qualifications that allow them to carry out certain medical procedures and even prescribe medications without the direct intervention of a doctor. This lets them fill an essential role in the health care system - in fact, nurse practitioners are quickly becoming the primary medical point of contact for many Americans, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.[i]

Are Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for You?

Here are some things to consider when choosing a nurse practitioner program:

Becoming a nurse practitioner differs from the process of becoming a registered nurse in the qualifications that are required. While RNs typically require only a bachelor's degree or associate's degree in nursing, nurse practitioners have the additional requirement of a graduate-level degree at the master's or doctoral level. Typically, aspiring nurse practitioners can specialize their degree based on the type of medicine they wish to focus on - for example, anesthesiology or nurse-midwifery.

In addition to the education requirements, nurse practitioners must be licensed in the state they wish to practice in. This licensure is typically administered by the state, and usually requires candidates to pass a licensure examination.

Nurse Practitioner Career Paths and Potential Salaries

Nurse practitioners are in growing demand, and can work in a variety of clinical settings. Many work in hospitals, while others prefer private practices or residential facilities.

Nurse Practitioner[ii]
In addition to working closely with patients to ensure understanding of diagnostic and treatment consultations, nurse practitioners can also take on specific treatment functions themselves, without requiring the direct supervision of a doctor. For example, nurse practitioners have the ability to make diagnoses and prescribe medications on their own.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $96,460
  • Job growth through 2022: 31 percent (much faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Master's degree.

Nurse Midwife[iii]
This type of nurse practitioner focuses on female and reproductive health, specifically in the period during and immediately following pregnancy and childbirth. They conduct assessments throughout the pregnancy, deliver the baby and schedule post-natal follow-up appointments to check the health of the baby and the mother.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $96,460
  • Job growth through 2022: 31 percent (much faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Master's degree.

Nurse Anesthetist[iv]
Similar to other nurse practitioners and midwives, nurse anesthetists must undergo the same training and receive the same qualifications, including a graduate-level nursing degree and a state-specific licensure. This branch of nursing focuses on anesthesia, and professionals work with patients undergoing surgery or other treatment where they must be anesthetized.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $96,460
  • Job growth through 2022: 31 percent (much faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Master's degree.

[i] http://www.aanp.org/all-about-nps/what-is-an-np
​[ii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-...
[iii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-...
[iv] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-...