A nurse practitioner, commonly referred to as an NP, is an advanced practice nurse who primarily works in hospitals, doctors’ offices, or rehab centers. These professionals are on the frontline of the healthcare industry.
Nurse practitioners work closely with physicians to provide high-quality healthcare services. Like a physician, a nurse practitioner can diagnose diseases and prescribe medications. A qualified and effective nurse practitioner has three qualities: clinical skills, expert knowledge, and compassion.
The additional training that an NP must undergo equips them to provide expert skills and knowledge. Most NPs have garnered bedside experience as registered nurses, which allows them to adopt a patient-centered care model.
NPs are an asset to the medical industry as they improve access to primary and critical care advice. Busy doctors’ offices benefit from the presence of an NP because they help minimize the patient load those doctors are expected to maintain. The presence of a nurse practitioner improves health outcomes by mitigating the risk associated with high patient volume.
Traditionally, patients have felt unacknowledged by their primary healthcare providers because physicians don’t always exemplify the same compassion as nurse practitioners. NPs and primary care doctors operate similarly.
However, the most notable difference between a physician and a nurse is their interpersonal skills. Nurses spend more time at the bedsides with patients and have therefore established skills that help them connect with their patients much easier than a physician.
Nursing education places a huge emphasis on patient-centered care. In the field of advanced nursing practice, there is an emphasis on preventative care, which is why some may speculate that nurse practitioners have a more holistic approach to medicine.
At any rate, nurse practitioners provide the same level of high-quality care that a doctor provides, in addition to giving the patient the time and space to express their health concerns.
Nurse practitioners provide compassionate care
A nurse practitioner is an excellent career for someone who has a giving heart and is eager to serve the community. Nurse practitioners have had to learn the 6 Cs of compassionate care, which include: care, compassion, courage, commitment, communication, and competence.
The extra ethical and cultural competency training that a nurse must undergo significantly improves the overall patient satisfaction. When a nurse does not demonstrate compassion, the chance for medical error dramatically increases.
To avoid compromising the patient’s health, it is important that the practitioner has a clear understanding of any symptoms and concerns that the patient may be experiencing. This understanding will promote more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans. Nurse practitioners provide a safe place for patients to freely express their health concerns.
Because registered nurses have had more time to develop their bedside manner, they make excellent advanced practitioners. Nurse practitioners often provide patients with a sense of security and understanding that you can only give when there’s a genuine foundation of compassion.
The difference in how nurse practitioners and physicians interact with patients has a lot to do with the training process. Physicians undergo four years of medical school and then a three-to-five-year residency program. There is not much emphasis on patient bedside care in training to become a physician.
However, there shouldn’t be any concern about the qualifications of nurse practitioners because they have also completed bachelor’s and graduate degrees.
In addition to their formal education, nurse practitioners typically have at least one year of experience as registered nurses. In some instances, a new nurse practitioner can be more experienced than a new doctor.
The healthcare community is evolving, and now more than ever, there is a greater chance of encountering a nurse practitioner during your next clinical care visit; you may not even notice the difference.
Nurse practitioners improve the efficacy of the healthcare system
Research has indicated that nurse practitioners improve the overall cost-efficacy of healthcare. NPs can provide high-quality medical care at a lower cost than traditional physicians.
Studies have reported that the service provided by an NP can potentially reduce the cost of a patient visit by one-third. One reason NPs are more cost-effective is that the cost of education and training is significantly less than that of a physician.
The higher education cost of a physician, in turn, requires a higher salary. Because it costs less to educate NPs, patients can receive healthcare services from these clinicians at lower rates.
A study conducted in 2012 projected over $16 billion in savings from the use of advanced practice nurses (Perryman, 2012). Even more healthcare savings are accrued if the nurse practitioners work independently.
Not only do nurse practitioners improve the cost efficiency of healthcare, but they also improve the overall patient flow in doctors’ offices and hospitals. In many cases, a high-demanding doctor’s office would hire nurse practitioners to assist the physician in seeing patients.
In this case, the nurse practitioner is improving the overall efficacy of the medical office. The NP is also improving the lives of the patients by diagnosing and treating their ailments in a timely manner.
Hiring nurse practitioners in the emergency room has decreased ER wait times. Instead of waiting for a doctor to become available, patients’ health concerns can still be addressed with the availability of nurse practitioners.
Being a nurse practitioner is a rewarding career
Nurse practitioners have a reputation for having excellent bedside manners in comparison with other healthcare providers. Nurse practitioners can provide a level of compassion that patients don’t experience from a medical doctor.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan indicated that patients prefer nurse practitioners over physicians mainly because of their interpersonal skills (Leach, 2018).
A nurse practitioner can provide a level of comfortability to a patient that someone without the extra years of training cannot provide. This improves trust among patients and their healthcare practitioners, which improves healthcare outcomes.
A nurse practitioner has the responsibility of promoting health and wellness through patient education, wellness exams, and all other health outreach opportunities. This is a wonderful career for someone excited about improving the lives and well-being of others.
As a nurse practitioner, one can expect to examine patients, review diagnostic results, educate patients and their families, and lead a team of clinicians to deliver high-quality healthcare. A career as a nurse practitioner is for those who are interested in serving their community from a position of healthcare leadership.
The opportunities for a nurse practitioner extend beyond a clinical setting. Many nurse practitioners work in a more administrative or healthcare management capacity.
If you are someone who wants the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare settings, then a career as an advanced practice nurse is a perfect fit. Nurse practitioners have the privilege of working in doctors’ offices, hospitals, rehab centers, and even internationally in global health outreach programs.
While some may choose to work in traditional hospital or medical office settings, others take the opportunity to travel and work abroad. The opportunities are endless in this career. Some states even allow NPs to operate their private practice.
Nurse practitioners have many options when determining their specialty. The most common type of NP is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). An FNP would see patients for primary care and general health assessments. There are more specialized NP positions in pediatrics, gynecology, emergency medicine, and many more.
There is no limit to the location or specialty an NP can work in. Unlike a medical doctor who must practice one specialty for their entire career, an NP can start as a family NP and then switch to pediatrics or any other specialty at any point in their career.
There is also an option to complete a nurse practitioner fellowship, not to be confused with an NP residency. A fellowship gives the NP the chance to specialize in a field beyond their general training.
For example, a nurse practitioner who has a special interest in nephrology has the option to complete a nephrology fellowship before practicing in that subspecialty. Fellowship programs vary in length, but they must allow nurse practitioners the opportunity to gain expert knowledge in the sub-specialization they choose.
One may ask, is becoming a nurse practitioner online worth it? Nurse practitioners are some of the highest-paid professionals in the country. Most entry-level NP jobs start in the low six figures.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the average salary of a nurse practitioner was $111,687. Considering the average salary in the U.S. is approximately $60 000, an NP makes a very comfortable salary. Cost of education: In comparison to other high-paying careers, the cost of NP education is relatively affordable.
The final price to become an NP is between $60,000- $70,000. The average cost to become a physician is upwards of $250,000. Many hospitals provide tuition reimbursement for RNs who are actively pursuing their advanced nursing degree.
There are actually a few supplemental programs available to help fund NP education expenses. A career as a nurse practitioner can prove to be extremely rewarding, so it’s worth it!
Final thoughts on the benefits of working as a nurse practitioner
Although a career as an NP is exciting and lucrative, those who decide to embark on this career should be prepared for a long journey. You will first need to study at a bachelor’s degree level, preferably in nursing or life sciences. You then need to complete a graduate degree in advanced practice nursing.
Many graduate institutions require that NPs have experience as registered nurses before evolving into advanced practice nursing. Depending on the type of nurse practitioner you’d like to be, you can gain this experience in a hospital and medical office. The length of experience as an RN varies by academic institution; some schools don’t require it all.
Earning your NP degree online is worth it because it provides the scheduling flexibility that traditional NP programs cannot accommodate. There is also an option to complete a Nurse Practitioner Residency Program. These programs are optional and typically last one year and help NPs improve their clinical skills. Although not necessary, many NPs who have completed a residency credit it for helping them to sharpen their skills.
Becoming an NP is a great option for people who want an exciting and rewarding career as a leader in the healthcare industry. The main objective of a nurse practitioner is to examine, diagnose, and treat illness in patients.
An added benefit of nurse practitioners is that they can meet all these requirements while still demonstrating compassion. When a patient feels like they are being heard, they will be more upfront about any symptoms they may be experiencing, which will make it easier for the practitioner to make an accurate diagnosis.
Nurse practitioners improve the healthcare community and advocate for patients, promoting patient-centered care. In addition to improving cost-efficacy, nurse practitioners contribute to patient safety. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of APRNs is expected to grow 45% between 2020 and 2030.
This profession is becoming more popular among people with interest in the healthcare field. It’s an exciting opportunity to serve those in need with the potential to earn a six-figure salary. The civil rights activist Cesar Chavez once said, “The end of all knowledge should be service to others.” At the end of the training, a nurse practitioner has the knowledge and skills to serve as a healthcare liaison for the vulnerable and ill in their community.