If you are interested in furthering your career as a nurse, becoming a nurse practitioner may be a good option. Working as a nurse practitioner can be rewarding and lucrative. There has never been a better time to become an NP. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the opportunities for nurse practitioners are expected to grow by about 19% through the year 2022.
Currently, there is a shortage of certain types of doctors including family practice physicians. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States is expected to see a shortage of up to 90,000 doctors by the year 2025. Nurse practitioners may help fill some of the void.
The path to becoming a nurse practitioner starts by earning a registered nursing degree. Although associate degree programs are available, a four-year bachelor’s degree program may be a better option. After earning your degree and obtaining your RN license, additional education and training is required.
The next step is earning a graduate degree. The minimum requirement to work as a nurse practitioner is a master’s degree, but some nurses also pursue a PhD program.
Nurse practitioner programs vary in their requirements. Some schools require nurses to have a certain number of years of experience before graduate school. Other programs may allow new nurses to works towards their master’s degree while gaining experience. It may be helpful to work for a few years to determine what area of nursing you are the most interested in pursuing.
The length of a master’s nurse practitioner program is often about two years. Some programs are full-time, but there may also be part-time options, which may work better with some nurses’ schedules.
Nurse practitioner programs may vary in their focus. There are several different specialties and areas you can choose from including the following:
Certified Nurse Anesthetist
Nurse anesthetists have specialized training to administer anesthesia during various surgical procedures. Nurses also monitor the patient during and after the procedure to make sure they are tolerating the anesthesia.
Most nurse anesthetists work in hospitals or surgical centers. Salary may vary based on experience and location. According to a survey by Nurse Journal, the average salary for nurse anesthetists in 2013 was about $100,000 a year.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women’s health practitioners focus on the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, such as gynecological conditions like ovarian cancer and vaginal infections. They may also provide prenatal care and treat women who have menopausal concerns.
After earning a master’s in nursing degree with a focus on women’s health, nurses may choose to earn certification from a professional organization, such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the Nurses Credentialing Center.
One of the most common specialties for nurse practitioners to enter is family practice. Similar to a primary care doctor, nurse practitioners coordinate a patient’s care and may work with the same patients throughout their lives.
Nurse practitioners who focus on family practice treat a variety of patients with conditions ranging from benign to serious. They also focus on the prevention of disease and the overall health of the patient.