It can be difficult and expensive to get a hold of a physician for an appointment. Nurse practitioners, on the other hand, are typically more accessible and affordable, and they also often offer the same services as a physician. Nurse practitioners are nurses who are licensed to perform many of the same duties as physicians, including diagnosing conditions, implementing therapeutic treatments, conducting physical examinations, and prescribing medications. Typical patients can be easily treated with the guidance of a nurse practitioner. In some states, these nurses work independently, whereas in others, they may only be allowed to work under the supervision of a physician to provide health care.
Aspiring nurse practitioners must first become master’s-level registered nurses (RNs). Although nurses can become RNs through completing a diploma, associate, or bachelor’s degree nursing program, nurse practitioners must have a master’s level education due to the great responsibility of the profession. Before becoming an RN, nursing program graduates need to successfully complete the NCLEX-RN to become licensed to practice. In addition to a master’s degree in nursing and licensure to practice, nurse practitioners must have board certification of their specialty, such as pediatrics, general medicine, or geriatric care. Certification is available from a number of organizations, including the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.
The health care field is rapidly growing as more health care professionals are needed to keep up with the influx of new patients. A booming population and major advances in medicinal and medical technology increases the demand for physicians, nurses, and many other health care specialists to care for the country’s residents. In addition, rising health care costs will push many patients to seek more affordable options of health care. Nurse practitioners will be in more demand than ever as patients with common ailments seek their help rather than that of a physician’s. Nurse practitioners earn a substantial salary as well, making about $86,486 annually, according to the Mayo Clinic’s School of Health Sciences.