If you want to work in a fast-paced environment and have a lasting impact on people’s lives, a career in the healthcare industry might be just what you’re looking for. However, there are thousands of roles within the medical community, and finding the perfect fit isn’t always straightforward.
Working directly with patients offers high rewards but it can also be emotionally and physically draining. Becoming a doctor or dentist, for example, can also take a significant amount of time and require a substantial budget. By qualifying as a nurse, however, you can work directly with patients and begin your career more quickly.
How Do You Become a Nurse?
There are numerous roles within nursing, which means that qualified nurses begin their careers in various different ways. You might start gaining experience as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA) or as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), for example. If you want to operate as a Registered Nurse (RN), however, you’ll need to obtain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, as well as passing the NCLEX-RN and obtaining a state license.
Once you’ve gained experience as an RN, you might want to consider furthering your career. If so, a role as a Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator or Nurse Administrator might be your ultimate goal.
What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?
A Nurse Practitioner is permitted to diagnose and treat patients, including prescribing medication when it’s appropriate to do so. This increased responsibility allows Nurse Practitioners to take a more active role in patient management. In some instances, a Nurse Practitioner’s day-to-day role is more akin to the role of a physician or doctor.
However, the role of a Nurse Practitioner (NP) is dependent on their location. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners classifies states in three categories: full practice, reduced practice and restricted practice. As you might expect, Nurse Practitioners have more responsibility in full practice states and are permitted to assess, diagnose and treat patients without collaboration with other medical professionals or supervision.
How Do You Qualify as a Nurse Practitioner?
To qualify as a Nurse Practitioner, you’ll need to obtain a postgraduate qualification. Although it’s possible to gain employment as a Nurse Practitioner by completing a Master of Science in Nursing program, competition amongst candidates can be tough. This means that becoming a Doctor of Nursing Practice via a DNP program can be preferable.
As well as enabling you to work as a Nurse Practitioner, a DNP can also allow you to specialize in a particular area. Taking an online dnp family nurse practitioner track program will give you the skills and qualification you need to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, for example. Alternatively, you could specialize in other areas, such as pediatrics or neonatal care, while undertaking a DNP.
What are the Benefits of Becoming a Nurse Practitioner?
Qualifying as a Nurse Practitioner gives you the opportunity to further your career and delivers a number of benefits, including:
1. Increased Autonomy
As a Nurse Practitioner, you’ll have a much greater level of autonomy than other nurses, such as RNs. Although your autonomy will depend on which state you’re situated in, any position as an NP involves taking on more responsibility. If you work in a full practice state, for example, you are even permitted to open your own practice. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to start your own business and provide new healthcare services to the community.
2. Flexible Career Options
Once you’ve qualified as a Nurse Practitioner, your skills will be in high demand. As well as opening your own clinic, you have the choice of working in a hospital environment, doctor’s office, community clinics, non-profit organizations and government organizations. With increased demand for NP consultations, you’re likely to be able to find a fulfilling role in virtually any location.
3. Higher Salary
As a Nurse Practitioner, you can expect to receive a welcome income boost. Depending on your specific location, the average salary of a Registered Nurse in the U.S. ranges from $58,000 to $106,000. When you qualify as an NP, however, the average salary jumps to $95,000 to $133,000, depending on which state you work in. Remember – it’s possible to earn far more than this as a Nurse Practitioner. Your salary will reflect your experience, responsibility and expertise, which means obtaining a DNP and becoming a Nurse Practitioner can ensure you secure high paying roles.
4. Active Role in Patient Care
As a CAN, LPN or RN, you’ll be actively involved with patients, but you’ll typically be closely monitored and given direct instructions. In contrast, Nurse Practitioners take on a more active role in determining what type of care or treatment a patient requires. From educating patients, assessing their health, ordering tests, to making a diagnosis, administering treatments and prescribing treatments, you will be making critical decisions and ensuring patients get the support they need.
Furthermore, you’ll act as an advocate for your patients and help them to improve their health and wellbeing. For nurses who want to play a more active role in determining patient care, as well as having ongoing contact with patients, becoming a Nurse Practitioner could be the ideal career.
Preparing to Become a Nurse Practitioner
If you’ve worked as a nurse prior to becoming a Nurse Practitioner, you’ll be familiar with the fast-paced environment and collaborative work ethic that’s part and parcel of working in the healthcare sector. However, there are additional traits that can be helpful when you qualify as an NP.
While your training will ensure you have the nursing skills required to perform at an advanced level, being ready to take on the additional responsibility of your new role will stand you in good stead. You may manage other staff, for example, run your own clinic, or have your own patient list. By honing your organizational, leadership and time-management skills, you can ensure that you’re ready to begin the next stage of your career as a Nurse Practitioner.