When it comes to the healthcare industry, nurses play a hugely essential role in making sure that patients are getting the care that they need. Since nurses are so important role in the healthcare industry these days, it’s never been more important than it is right now for these professionals to get the right advanced training to prepare them to provide patients with the right standard of care.
When it comes to options for progression, nursing offers lots of different opportunities including working as a family nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are advanced nursing professionals who are beginning to play an increasingly important role in delivering primary care to patients due to a shortage of primary care physicians. Nurse practitioners have specialist advanced training such as a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing practice and any other specialist fields of nursing they may be interested in working in. Compared to registered nurses, nurse practitioners have more responsibility and autonomy and responsibility in their work. In twenty-two states, they have full practice authority, which allows them to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication to patients without the need for supervision from a doctor.
What Does the Nurse Practitioner Role Involve?
There are several factors including the environment that they are working in that will have an impact on the everyday work tasks and responsibilities of a nurse practitioner. The specialty area that the nurse practitioner works in will also have an impact on the type of roles and responsibilities that they take on.
Most nurse practitioners work in healthcare settings where they are required to work on several different tasks including direct patient care, planning and management, and more. In many clinical settings, nurse practitioners are among some of the first healthcare professionals to see the patient at an early stage, and they will often be among the first to attend to patient concerns. Nurse practitioners may diagnose illnesses and injuries, provide counseling and education to patients regarding healthcare, and prescribe medication. They are also responsible for recording patient medication and health history, provide advice about medication and treatments to patients, and make recommendations and referrals for further treatment.
Education for Nurse Practitioners
If you are considering working as a nurse practitioner, then it’s important to consider the education that you are going to need to get into this role. In general, nurse practitioners are expected to get an advanced nursing degree such as a master’s degree in nursing. After completion, you may also be expected to acquire a specialist qualification such as a postgraduate certificate in your specialty nursing area. To get an advanced degree in nursing you will need to be a registered nurse who has qualified with a BSN. Once you have graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, you can then go on to study for programs that are designed to get you into a career as a nurse practitioner such as this BSN to NP program.
Specialty Areas for Nurse Practitioners
Nurses who decide to get into a role as a nurse practitioner can choose from a wide variety of different healthcare specialty areas to work in. There are different types of nurse practitioner roles that nurses may wish to consider working in when getting into this position. Some of the most popular nurse practitioner specialty areas to consider if you are interested in getting into this role are:
Family Nurse Practitioner
This primary care role is the most popular type of nurse practitioner role to get into. It’s also one of the most in-demand nursing roles in the country today since many healthcare employers are hiring family nurse practitioners to step in and fill the gaps that have been created by a shortage of primary care physicians. With fewer medical students choosing primary care as their specialty, family nurse practitioners have the education and experience required to continue the standards of care that patients expect. Most nurse practitioners in this role will treat all patients and deal with general family health. They treat patients of all ages and with a wide range of conditions and healthcare problems on a daily basis. Most offer general healthcare, but some will specialize in particular areas of healthcare such as women’s health.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric nurse practitioners mainly work with children. These advanced practice registered nurses are trained to specialize in conditions that tend to affect children more often than adults. Pediatric nurse practitioners tend to work in settings where children are treated, such as pediatric departments, children’s hospitals, and family clinics. They may also work in outpatient clinics and other healthcare environments.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who specializes in patients suffering from various mental health conditions. They work in settings where they will be caring for patients who are dealing with mental health conditions and disorders including but not limited to anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, schizophrenia, psychosis, personality disorders, and substance abuse and addiction.
To work as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, you will be required to get specialist training in psychology and mental health in order to provide specialist healthcare and counseling to patients. They work in a range of healthcare environments including psychiatric hospitals and departments, rehabilitation centers, residential programs, outpatient clinics, and more. Typically, they will work as a part of a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and registered psychiatric nurses.
Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
A nurse practitioner who specializes in adult gerontology care will treat adults. They can work with adults of all ages but tend to specialize in treating seniors. Adult gerontology nurse practitioners may work in a wide range of different healthcare settings including nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and doctor’s offices. In this specialized role, there are many opportunities to further their careers including specializing in certain healthcare conditions that tend to affect older adults, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Surgical Nurse Practitioner
Surgical nurse practitioners are the only type of nurse practitioner that do not have full practice authority, as they are not permitted to conduct surgical procedures without the supervision of a qualified surgeon. These nurse practitioners work in operating rooms and are tasked with assisting in surgical procedures. Compared to a registered operating room nurse, they undergo more specialist and in-depth training in order to prepare them to offer more assistance throughout the procedure.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
A neonatal nurse practitioner is a highly skilled specialist area that involves caring for newborn babies or neonates. Typically, these nurse practitioners are hired to work in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU where babies are provided with care for the first few weeks or months of their lives if required. Infants in the NICU tend to be born unwell, with birth defects, or prematurely. Since the role is so specialized and involves working with patients that cannot communicate and may experience a change in condition suddenly and without warning, this is one of the most highly-paid nurse practitioner roles available in most states.
Retail Health Nurse Practitioner
Retail health is a new and emerging type of healthcare that has nurse practitioners at the forefront. This fairly new field offers patients the option to get healthcare and advice for minor issues at clinics that are typically located in retail settings such as superstores, drugstores, and pharmacies. They are becoming more and more popular among patients who like them for their convenience and are usually managed by nurse practitioners in states where these healthcare professionals can do so due to full practice authority.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
An oncology nurse practitioner specializes in patients that have various forms of cancer. They will typically be hired to work in the oncology department of hospitals or at specialist oncology clinics. They tend to work a part of a team of oncologists, oncology nurses, and other professionals to provide care to patients who are undergoing cancer treatments.
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
With more autonomy and responsibility in the role compared to registered nurses, along with various different specialty areas to get into and higher salaries, it’s no surprise that a career as a nurse practitioner is a popular choice among nursing professionals right now. Nurses often decide to train as a nurse practitioner since they want to move up the career ladder, but they also prefer the idea of continuing to work directly with patients rather than getting into an office-based role such as leadership and management. If you are considering a future career as a nurse practitioner, here’s how to get into the role:
Become a Registered Nurse
To qualify to train as a nurse practitioner, you will need to be a fully qualified and licensed registered nurse. If you’re not already working as a registered nurse, then you can do this by getting a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing. If you’re just starting your career journey in nursing and want to eventually become a nurse practitioner in the future, then a BSN is a better choice of degree, as this will ensure that you meet the entry requirements to study for a master’s degree in nursing and other advanced degree programs designed to prepare you for a nurse practitioner role.
If you are thinking of changing your current career to become a nurse practitioner and already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject, then an accelerated BSN might be worth considering. This degree program is intensive and designed to build on your current knowledge and skills to qualify you as a registered nurse in just two years rather than four.
Choose Your Specialty Area
Once you have qualified as a registered nurse, it’s important to get some nursing experience before moving up the ladder into a nurse practitioner role. Many nurse practitioner degree programs will require you to have gained some experience before you can start and this will also give you a chance to figure out what you like and what you are good at before deciding on the right specialty area for you. Many nurse practitioners have several years of experience as a registered nurse before going on to work as a nurse practitioner, which not only gives them the chance to build up their experience but also means that they are able to try different areas of healthcare and nursing to determine which specialty area is going to be the best fit for them.
Get an Advanced Degree
You will need to get an advanced degree such as a master’s degree in nursing to qualify as a nurse practitioner. Some master’s degrees are designed with the role of nurse practitioner in mind as this career path becomes more and more popular among nurses. Or, you can get a general MSN and then complete your training with a post-graduate certificate in the specialty area that you wish to get into as a nurse practitioner. This will depend on the specialty area that you have chosen. Some highly specialist roles such as neonatal nurse practitioner and surgical nurse practitioner tend to require more education and training to prepare you due to the nature of the role.
Get Your License
Once you have completed the required education to become a nurse practitioner, the final step is to get a license to practice as an advanced practice registered nurse in your state. You will do this by passing an exam that is similar to the NCLEX exam that you will have taken when qualifying and getting your license to become a registered nurse. Each state will vary when it comes to the exam board used and the requirements for passing and starting your career. You will not be able to work as a nurse practitioner until you have passed this exam and gained your license. Once licensed, you can work as either a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner in your state.
With fewer medical students choosing primary care, nurse practitioners are in higher demand than ever. This role gives registered nurses more autonomy and responsibility, along with the chance to get into primary care or focus on a specialist area of their choice.