Career Profile: Nurse Practitioner
Why Is Nursing a Job of Tomorrow?
The number of jobs for registered nurses, including nurse practitioners, is expected to rise 23 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered nurses are the largest health care occupation, and will likely remain in that top position. The average annual salary for all specialties of full-time nurse practitioners is $86,486, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who are licensed to act as physicians. They are trained to diagnose and treat common illnesses and conditions, as well as a few complex ailments. They diagnose conditions using the patient's history of illnesses individually and in the family, conducting physical exams and utilizing therapy, much as a doctor would. Nurse practitioners specialize in various fields within the health care industry, including women's health, pediatrics and family health. Many have independent clinics and practices, but in some states, nurse practitioners must work under the supervision of a licensed physician. The occupation focuses on personalized care, and it can be easier for patients to get an appointment with a nurse practitioner than one with a busy doctor. Consequently, some practitioners act as patients' primary health care provider. Most insurance plans cover nurse practitioner services.
What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Nurse Practitioner?
Registered nurses must earn at least a master's education in health care to become certified as nurse practitioners. Courses cover such subjects as adult health care and acute health. Finishing a master's degree program typically takes two to three years, after which prospective nurse practitioners must also become certified by the state in which they wish to practice. The criteria for practitioner certification vary among states. Even after receiving certification, many states require that practitioners seek relicensing within a certain time frame. This ensures that nurse practitioners keep up with medical developments.