Between the role’s autonomy and the hours’ flexibility, there’s never been a better time to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP).
What are the advantages of becoming an NP? Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly enough space to list them all, but our sources will give you a good idea of some.
Benefits of Becoming an NP
“I believe that nurse practitioners bring a unique perspective to the relationship with our patients. Our educational foundation is rooted in the nursing model, whereas physicians are trained in a more traditional medical model. Nurse practitioners are accustomed to treating the entire patient rather than solely treating a disease or condition,” says Teresa Cyrus, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, co-owner of Integrative Geriatrics, a practice that provides care to underserved adults and seniors in rural Minnesota.
“I believe it is a more holistic approach to patient care. For example, if my patient is being seen for frequent falls, I can visit their home to determine what may be contributing to them. In addition, I will check in with the nursing staff and the patient’s family to get additional perspectives when developing a treatment plan, and then continue to monitor the patient closely after our visit,” she says.
Cyrus, an assistant professor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, adds that NPs have been filling roles where it’s been more difficult to recruit physicians in geriatrics, family practice, and rural areas. “In the past several years, I have also seen an increase in NPs working as hospitalists, in more nuanced specialty areas, and even as medical directors.”
Role of NP is Changing
In many states, the role of the NP has or is changing.
“NPs’ role and scope of practice have expanded depending on the state where they are licensed to practice. For example, in my state, NPs can practice independently. That means they can own, manage, and operate their clinics without a collaborating physician,” explains Rei Serafica, Ph.D., who is a full-time faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing and works once a week at an inpatient psychiatric mental health facility in North Las Vegas.
“Some NPs are entrepreneurs, consultants, educators, and even researchers. Some NPs work in academics like me. We are [training] future NPs, and we also manage and balance our careers by devoting a day to practice as NPs to maintain our professional skills and credentials. In other words, it is a dynamic profession that offers flexibility and multiple career opportunities.”
Opportunities for NPs Are Endless
The opportunities seem endless regardless of the type of NP a nurse chooses to become.
“The healthcare system has found relief in employing us in all sectors. NPs are seen everywhere now—from clinics to hospitals and are at the front, cutting-edge of clinical research, faculty, and teaching,” states Isra Hashmi, FNP-BC, who works in private practice. She adds that job security is a big relief because not only are NPs not going anywhere, and their career is only expected to grow.
Nicole Beckmann, Ph.D., APRN, CPNP-PC, embodies the diversity of working as an NP, as she has worked in three different specialties over 15 years of practice.
“[I] find this to be one of the important ways I can continue to grow professionally and challenge my skills. Additional benefits include increased autonomy in decision-making and management of health conditions. Nurses use their holistic approach to patient care to see patients’ health problems in the context of their lifestyles, personal goals, and preferences. In addition, nurses recognize their patients as people, learning each patient’s story, priorities, and unique needs. [We] bring this approach to the patient/provider relationship to diagnose conditions and partner with patients to determine the best treatment options. Patients appreciate this connection and the meaningful relationships they form with their NP providers. This is what makes being a nurse practitioner so satisfying.”
Hours are Long, But Have an Upside
As for hours, NPs may still have to work long hours, but Beckmann explains the upside of it.
“Depending on the work setting of the nurse practitioner, hours may include evening, overnight, or weekend shifts. However, this also means that nurse practitioners can choose a position and work schedule that fits their lifestyle. For example, part-time positions, extended shifts, and block scheduling may allow for long periods off or for the nurse practitioner to have the work/life balance they seek,” she says.
Cyrus says she loves her job, “Being an NP is tremendously rewarding, and I encourage any nurse who expresses interest to pursue that calling.”