As healthcare professionals took center stage in the Covid-19 pandemic, many young adults and teens have found themselves inspired by their tireless service. In fact, despite the struggles during the pandemic, the BLS reports that there will be 16% growth in employment options in the healthcare industry over the next decade. This would be the equivalent of 2.6 million new jobs.
Are you interested in a career in healthcare, but finding it difficult to choose between the options available? The same BLS report identifies occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants as some of the fastest growing healthcare jobs over the next decade, with home health and personal care aides following close behind.
Nurse practitioners, however, are at the top of the list with a tremendous projected growth rate of over 52%. We will thus delve deeper into the work of a nurse practitioner to explore this in-demand career, and help determine whether it may be the right career path for you.
Scope of work
As listed in the Career Information on nurses, a registered nurse coordinates healthcare to patients and assists doctors, while also providing counseling and emotional support. A nurse practitioner does all of these things too; but as a mid-level practitioner (a step below a doctor) they are also authorized to provide urgent, primary, and specialty care to patients.
This makes them capable of diagnosing and managing acute, chronic, and complex health problems, promoting health, preventing disease, and educating patients about overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners are able to work independently with their own office in some states.
Trends in the field
The recently passed House Bill 2434 mandated all nurse practitioners to be located within 75 miles of their collaborating physician. However, this resulted in a shortage of primary care professionals across states like Missouri and Connecticut, and was thereafter waived during the pandemic to increase access to telehealth (online healthcare).
This allowed healthcare workers in states with shortages to fully maximize the benefits of telehealth. Thus, along with APRNs in Missouri and 20 plus other states, nurse practitioners in Connecticut can work remotely which helps them respond to the demand with flexibility. This in turn makes prescriptions affordable for everyone and enables people to save on medications for conditions such as GERD or asthma.
The proven efficiency of telehealth services, and the role of remote nurse practitioners in addressing the rise of healthcare concerns during the pandemic, has more states considering the expansion of nurse practitioners’ scope of practice. Currently, APRNs from 26 states have Full Practice Authority, with nurse practitioners in Kansas joining the list in 2022, to practice independent of any regulatory mandated contractual relationship with a physician.
The remaining 24 states are expected to do the same in time. As we expect an improvement in the availability of high-quality healthcare, we can also expect a steady demand for APRNs to offer care locally and regionally.
Becoming a nurse practitioner
Job security is unparalleled, but the requirements to become a nurse practitioner in the first place can be a challenge, especially as their scope of work and job responsibilities increase. Students who aim to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) should expect extensive training to gain a high-level proficiency in STEM, especially science.
The AANP explains the evidence-based coursework and clinical rotations that one must complete to become a registered nurse. This follows a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a NP-focused graduate master’s or doctoral nursing program, and of course, and the need to pass the national NP board certification exam.
Becoming a NP is a long process, so make sure you consider the requirements carefully before setting yourself on this path. However, although the journey is extensive, many NPs will say that the rewards of a lifelong career are well worth it.