Nurse Practitioners

Why Demand is Growing for Nurse Practitioners

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Research suggests that the nurse practitioner role is one of the most in-demand in the healthcare industry today. In 2013, the nurse practitioner role ranked in the top ten most recruited healthcare field positions, which was the first time that it made the top twenty list in research conducted by healthcare recruiter Merritt Hawkins. Since then, the nurse practitioner role has risen significantly, meeting and exceeding expectations for it to reach a thirty percent growth rate before 2020. Over the past few years, the demand and growth of the nurse practitioner role have grown significantly more compared to other healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians. Some of the main reasons behind this huge growth in demand include:

Changing Population Demographics:

The aging population is certainly one of the main reasons behind the growth in demand for nurse practitioners. By 2025, the US population is expected to have grown by around 10% and the population with the largest rate of growth is expected to be the senior generation, which is a demographic with an expected growth rate of more than 45%. In contrast, younger generations are not expected to have such a huge growth rate in the same timeframe.

For example, the number of under-eighteens is expected to only grow by around 5%. This is one of the driving reasons behind the growth of nurse practitioner roles since the senior demographic is one that typically uses more healthcare services compared to others, along with being more likely to require skilled and specialized healthcare.

Growth of Retail Clinics:

Retail clinics or mini-clinics are becoming a more common sight these days. They are often found as a part of larger superstores like Walmart or at drugstores and other convenient locations. Back in 2007, there were only around three hundred of these clinics in the US, but by 2014, this had significantly increased to around two thousand, and since then these clinics have been popping up everywhere.

Retail clinics are often managed by nurse practitioners, and the demand for this convenient healthcare that patients are able to easily access while out doing their regular errands is just another reason why the number of nurse practitioner roles is on the rise. The huge rate of growth experienced by the mini clinics is down to a large number of factors including the convenience of being able to visit them after-hours, insurance covered by most private health insurance companies, and high deductible health plans.

For example, MinuteClinic is a health franchise that works with retailers such as Target to provide in-store health services and advice that customers can access easily. MinuteClinic is growing rapidly and typically hires nurse practitioners to run their clinics, putting them at the forefront of modern healthcare and promoting the clinic as a good alternative primary healthcare provider.

Shortage of Primary Care Doctors:

It’s not just a shortage of nurses that is causing problems for the US health industry right now. We’re also dealing with a reduced number of medical students deciding to get into primary care, which has led to a shortage of GPs around the country. Coupled with an aging population that requires more healthcare services compared to others, this could be a very dangerous situation to be in if a solution is not found.

Nurse practitioners have quickly become the solution to this problem. Not only does it take a registered nurse a much shorter time to become a nurse practitioner compared to somebody studying to become a general practitioner or primary care physician, but nurse practitioners are also able to offer a healthcare service that is often on par with that offered by primary care physicians today.

In twenty US states, nurse practitioners have full practice authority – in other words, they are permitted to take on many of the same tasks that a primary care physician would do including diagnosing conditions, prescribing medications, and referring patients for additional treatment without the need for them to be supervised or signed off by a medical doctor.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

The PPACA has also had an impact on the growth in demand for nurse practitioners.  In 2014, the Congressional Budget Office projected that around 26 million US citizens would gain access to affordable health insurance within the next three years due to PPACA provisions. In addition to better access to affordable health insurance, the PPACA also included several investments that allowed the healthcare industry to expand the role of the nurse practitioner when it comes to how care is delivered to patients. Around sixty-five million dollars has been invested so far into various nurse practitioner roles in healthcare as a result, including outpatient clinics that are managed by nurse practitioners.

What is the Role of a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is an advanced nursing professional who has completed an advanced training program. A master’s degree in nursing such as an RN to MSN program is often the minimum requirement for those who want to get into a career as a nurse practitioner. Since nurse practitioners need to undergo advanced training and licensing to get into this role, they will typically have more authority, autonomy, and responsibility compared to a registered nurse. In twenty US states, nurse practitioners do not need to have their decisions signed off by a primary care physician since they are awarded full practice authority.

What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?

Nurse practitioners tend to work as providers of either primary or specialty care. They typically focus their care provision on a specific patient population such as the general public, adults, children, seniors, infants, or patients with certain conditions and diseases. Compared to registered nurses, nurse practitioners will typically have a significantly higher level of responsibility. They can work in much the same way as a primary care physician to examine, diagnose, prescribe medication, and refer patients for treatment. Due to the various factors mentioned above that have led to changes in the way that primary care is delivered to patients, the expert knowledge and skill that nurse practitioners are trained for is in growing demand in all aspects of healthcare, but particularly in primary care.

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Earn?

Nurses will often decide to advance their careers to become a nurse practitioner due to the fact it is a highly rewarding career option with many opportunities to do good in the world and help other people. However, along with the personal satisfaction that comes with working in this profession, there is also the chance to earn a generous and competitive salary, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that nurse practitioners earn around $30k more annually compared to registered nurses. The nurse practitioner salary may also vary depending on the demand for nurse practitioners in a specific area.

Nurse Practitioner Career Outlook:

The career outlook for nurse practitioners is currently very positive, with the demand for nurse practitioners showing no signs of slowing down. With twenty states already providing nurse practitioners with full practice authority, this might be the case in more states in the future as these healthcare professionals become even more important to the healthcare industry across the country. As time goes on, nurse practitioners are expected to become increasingly more essential to primary care provision with a 30% increase in nurse practitioner roles expected by 2028.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner:

If the idea of working as a nurse practitioner is something that appeals to you, qualifying as a registered nurse is the first step in the process, before going on to take advanced training and licensing. The steps to becoming a nurse practitioner involve:

Become a Registered Nurse:

The first step in the process of becoming a nurse practitioner is to become a registered nurse. You can do this by enrolling in any nursing training program including associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

Get a BSN:

If you decide to get an associate degree to become a registered nurse, you will usually need to get a BSN before you can begin training to become a nurse practitioner since this is typically the minimum requirement for enrolment on a nurse practitioner training program or master’s degree in nursing. Registered nurses who have qualified with an associate degree in nursing can take a bridge program such as the ADN-BSN in order to get their BSN faster by building on the experience and knowledge that they already have. Or, if you want to get into a nursing career to eventually become a nurse practitioner and already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject, you may want to consider an accelerated BSN program which is designed to get you qualified to be a nurse in half the time that it would normally take with getting a traditional BSN degree program.

Get Experience in Nursing:

The vast majority of nursing master’s degree programs and nurse practitioner training programs will require you to have some experience in nursing as a minimum requirement of being able to enroll in the program due to the advanced nature of the nurse practitioner role. The length of time that you have gained experience working as a nurse will usually vary between programs, so it’s a good idea to research programs to find out how much experience will be needed to get into the ones that you are the most interested in. As you gain experience in a role as a registered nurse, you will also have the chance to work in a variety of different nursing roles, which can help with deciding what nurse practitioner role you would like to get into. Many nurse practitioners worked in the ER as a registered nurse since this is one of the best places in the healthcare industry to get a wide range of experience working with different patients, injuries, conditions, and more.

Get a Master’s Degree:

To further your nursing career and become a nurse practitioner, you will need to get an advanced nursing degree program such as a master’s degree in nursing, which is usually the minimum requirement to work in the role. You can study for a general master’s degree in nursing or a nurse practitioner master’s degree that is specifically designed to prepare you for this role.

If you decide to go with a master’s degree in nursing, you can find postgraduate certificate programs that are available to provide you with the specialist training that you need to work as a nurse practitioner. These are available for advanced nurses looking to get into a career in any nurse practitioner role including family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and more.

Master’s degrees in nursing and nurse practitioner postgraduate training programs are becoming increasingly available online, making it easier for busy nurses to get the qualifications that they need flexibly while working.

Choosing the Right Advanced Degree or Nurse Practitioner Training Program For You:

There are lots of options to choose from if you want to enroll in a master’s degree in nursing or a nurse practitioner training program. You can choose from a wide range of both online and offline nurse practitioner training programs or master’s degree programs to study to achieve your career goals. When choosing the right program for you, there are several factors that are worth considering before you decide. If you’re currently working full-time as a registered nurse or expect to be working in nursing when studying for your master’s degree, an online degree might be the best option for you since it offers more flexibility which is often a top priority for nurses. It’s also important to consider the reputation of the college, how experienced they are in delivering nursing programs online, if employer support is available for you as you study, and anything else that might be important to you.

Whether you’re considering a career in nursing and are interested in a role as a nurse practitioner in the future or are currently a registered nurse and want to advance your career, nurse practitioners are in increasing demand in healthcare.

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