Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Nurses
Nurse Practitioners, also known as advanced practice nurses, are registered nurses (RN) who have obtained a graduate degree (MS or MSN), as well as becoming board certified in a specialty area (e.g. Adult Care, Family Nursing, Gerontological, Pediatrics, or Women’s Health Care).
Nurse practitioners are primary care providers, who perform a wide range of services that might include:
- Evaluating a patient’s health history
- Performing physical examinations
- Ordering diagnostic tests
- Treating disease
- Dispensing medications
Generally, nurse practitioners work independently however, they maintain a very close working association with physicians and will confer with them when necessary. In addition, nurse practitioners, like physicians are involved in more than just direct patient care. Many participate in education, research, and legislative activities to improve the quality of health care in the United States.
Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
Although the Federal Government tracks employment data for the nursing profession it does not separately track nurse practitioner positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, however presents a very strong job outlook for Registered Nurses. The Handbook specifically states: “Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population, as they live longer and more active lives.”
Supporting the basis for job growth for nurses, and particularly nurse practitioners is a recent New York Times article, "Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law" highlighted a problem facing many areas of the country -- a lack of physicians, particularly primary care ones. According to the Times, "The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025..."
While doctors receive significantly more training than nurses and are better prepared to deal with complex medical issues, the number of available “primary care” physicians is not keeping up with the growing demand. The training that nurse practitioners receive includes a focus on disease prevention, reduction of health risks, and patient education, which helps prepare them for assuming a greater role in potentially filling the primary care gap.
For these reasons, the job outlook and ongoing need for nurse practitioners should remain very strong.
Educational and Training Requirements
- Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree
- Advanced clinical training beyond RN training
- Completion of coursework and clinical training in area of intended specialization
- In addition, national certification requirements must be met
Resources for Nurse Practitioners
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners
- National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
- Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association
- National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
- In addition, most States have Nurse Practitioner Associations
Featured Nurse Practitioners Programs
Our featured Nurse Practitioner Programs can be reviewed here: More Info