Most travel nurses tend to be registered nurses, but that isn’t the only option for those interested in a career in nursing. Nurse practitioners can take on more responsibilities and are often offered higher compensation. They’re also in high demand.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at what it takes to become a nurse practitioner (NP), the benefits and challenges associated with the job, and what a career as an NP looks like.
The Future Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives has a projected job growth rate of 38% in the next decade. Since there is a growing need for preventative care, there is high demand for nurse practitioners. The growing aging population and the rise in the prevalence of chronic conditions also has contributed to its projected growth rate.
The ongoing physician shortage has also contributed the nurse practitioner employment growth. They can provide some of the same care as physicians and can serve as patients’ primary care providers. There have also been recent changes in healthcare laws that have expanded the breadth of services NPs can offer.
The employment growth rate can also be attributed to nurse practitioners’ qualifications to work in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
How To Become a Travel Nurse Practitioner
If you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse practitioner, there are some factors you should consider. Nurse practitioners tend to have advanced knowledge and skills that allow them to fill the growing shortage of physicians. This means that the job calls for a higher level of training and expertise.
The requirements to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary are outlined below:
Most registered nurses are able to practice with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but nurse practitioners must obtain either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). There are dual degrees available that allow students to earn their advanced degree while working towards a bachelor’s degree, but the most common pathway involves at least three years of graduate school.
To begin a nurse practitioner program, you must already have a registered nursing license and a bachelor’s degree.
Licensure requirements depend greatly on the state where you live, but there are some general guidelines. First, you must obtain your registered nursing license to become a registered nurse and complete the graduate program of your choice.
You’ll also be required to obtain an Advanced Practice Nursing License from your state nursing board. For more information on state nursing boards, take a look at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
After becoming a licensed advanced practice nurse, you may need to obtain a certification within a specific patient population, such as family medicine.
If you’re interested in working without physician supervision, it’s important to know which states offer full practice authority. This allows nurse practitioners to perform the same functions as physicians without supervision under exclusive licensure offered by the state board of nursing.
If you want to know if the state you’re interested in working in is a full practice authority state, visit the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Benefits and Challenges of Being a Nurse Practitioner
Just as with other healthcare occupations, there are benefits and challenges associated with being a nurse practitioner.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and challenges to get a full understanding of the nurse practitioner job outlook:
With the increased demand for nurse practitioners, let’s take a look a look at some of the benefits of the job, so you can see if it’s for you:
Since nurse practitioners don’t need physician supervision, they have greater autonomy in their ability to diagnose and treat patients. They can prescribe medication, have their own practice, refer patients, and more.
If you’re looking for more independence, becoming a travel nurse practitioner could be for you.
Nurse practitioners also have the ability to work in a variety of healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics. This gives them the opportunity to acquire additional experience in diverse settings.
If you want to work in different places and accrue more experience, consider a job as an NP.
As noted previously, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a nurse practitioner job growth of nearly 40% in the next decade. With an increased demand for this position, there will be a number of new jobs available to you.
Specifically, there’s a lot of need for nurse practitioners in rural areas as well as underserved areas. Compared to urban and suburban areas, the availability of healthcare providers is significantly lower in rural areas.
Rural and underserved areas need greater access to healthcare providers, and travel nurses can provide care to those in need.
Including the previous benefits, there are a number of reasons why becoming a nurse practitioner can be a rewarding career. For one, you have the opportunity to establish personal connections with patients and their families.
In addition, this is an intellectually stimulating career. You’ll have to stay up to date with the latest medical research, technologies, and treatment plans, which allows you to continue to learn.
If you’re looking to make a significant impact, this is the job for you.
As a result of its job growth and lack of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners are often offered a higher salary than other nursing positions. If you’re looking to earn more money, this is a financially rewarding career.
All healthcare jobs come with their fair share of challenges. It’s important to acknowledge some of the harder aspects of a career as a nurse practitioner.
As outlined in the beginning, a nurse practitioner has more educational requirements than a registered nurse. They’ll need to complete more years of school and obtain a higher degree. In addition, to become a certified nurse practitioner, you’ll need to obtain additional licenses.
Nurse practitioner programs can be more rigorous and take longer, which can be difficult. However, with the projected job growth, it’s well worth the effort. Pursuing further education may also be expensive, but there are many ways to pay for nursing school.
A number of factors contribute to this being a high-stress profession. Long hours, varying regulations, and the emotional toll of the job can all impact stress levels. However, the biggest stressor is the workload.
The increased demand for their healthcare services can put more work on their plates. In addition, they make high-stakes decisions about patient care, which can be stressful.
While it can be stressful, nurse practitioners are highly needed and can make a significant impact on patient care.
Since they’re needed to treat chronic illnesses, offer help in hospitals, and more, they often have demanding work schedules. This includes long hours, nights, and weekends, which can be physically demanding and impact work-life balance.
As noted earlier, regulations can vary from state to state. Some states offer full practice authority that allows nurse practitioners to work without physician supervision, but not all states are full practice.
It’s important to keep up with the status of the state you’re interested in working in, as this determines the extent to which you’re able to provide care.
Nurse practitioners deal with a lot of different areas of patient care. This includes chronic illnesses, end-of-life care, and patient loss, which can be emotionally taxing. Despite the difficulty of dealing with such circumstances, it’s important to remember how important that kind of medical care is.
Job Outlook For Nurse Practitioners
Now that you have a better understanding of what it takes to become a nurse practitioner and some of the ups and downs associated with it, you probably have a better understanding of whether the job is for you.
Below is a nurse practitioner job outlook to help you see what the actual job looks like:
A nurse practitioner has a variety of job duties. They conduct comprehensive patient health assessments to determine what their patients need. In addition, they diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions.
They’re also expected to interpret lab results and other diagnostic tests. They can then prescribe therapies and medicines as needed. Since they manage the patient’s overall care, they also implement treatment plans and monitor their progress.
All healthcare professionals are expected to have certain skills that help them do their job. There can be some crossover, but here are some of the skills that nurse practitioners should have:
As primary care providers, nurse practitioners have to communicate their treatment plans to their patients, their families, and other healthcare providers. It’s important to keep everyone in the loop on the patient’s status, so nurse practitioners need to be effective communicators.
Since nurse practitioners are expected to look over complex medical reports and data, they’ll need to be able to analyze all this information to diagnose and treat patients properly.
Attention to Detail
Going hand in hand with analytical skills, nurse practitioners also need to have great attention to detail. In order to accurately diagnose and administer treatments, they must pay close attention to every detail of the patient’s medical history and symptoms.
The long hours and high-stress situations that nurse practitioners face require them to have the stamina to handle such instances.
Nurse practitioners must spend a lot of time interacting with patients to get a handle on their needs. This means that they need to be able to build relationships built on trust and empathy so that patients will be transparent with them.
As primary care providers, nurse practitioners are often expected to manage a team of nurses or other healthcare professionals. Leadership skills are essential to ensure that the team operates smoothly and effectively.
You know that healthcare often brings with it a number of unexpected challenges. When such a situation arises, you’ll need problem-solving skills to be able to come up with a solution quickly.
Technology is constantly evolving. As a nurse practitioner, you’ll need to stay updated with the latest medical technologies and practices. This will ensure that you’re able to use medical equipment and software to provide the best care possible.
Finally, as with any travel nursing job, you’ll need to be able to adapt quickly to a new environment.
Areas In Which You Can Work
Nurse practitioners have the ability to work in a variety of areas. These include family health, acute care, oncology, and more.
Let’s take a look at the job outlook for these different areas:
Family Nurse Practitioner
A family nurse practitioner looks after patients from infancy to old age. They often have to diagnose a wide range of health conditions which requires them to have extensive knowledge and adaptability.
The biggest part of being a family nurse practitioner is preventative care. This entails performing regular checkups, immunizations, and health screenings. A family nurse practitioner also works with chronic disease management. So, disease prevention is another big focus of these efforts.
A family nurse practitioner also focuses on diagnosing and treating common health conditions.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
Due to a growing aging population, there is a high demand for adult gerontology nurse practitioners. They specialize in treating older adults and the elderly.
One of their responsibilities is disease prevention, which entails immunizations and regular health screenings to detect health anomalies early on.
They also help with chronic disease management. An adult gerontology nurse practitioner manages diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Another responsibility of theirs is medication management. They have to take into consideration that the elderly population often uses multiple medications at once and must be aware of potential drug interactions.
Finally, they may be providing end-of-life care. This means managing patients’ pain and other symptoms and also supporting the patient and their families through this difficult time.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric nurse practitioners are the primary care providers of children and adolescents. They have some of the same responsibilities, such as preventing, diagnosing, and treating health issues.
They’re also responsible for making sure that children receive their routine vaccinations and help children deal with mental health issues such as stress and anxiety.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal nurse practitioners provide care to newborn babies, particularly those with critical illnesses or who were born prematurely. This involves performing medical procedures such as intubations and umbilical line placements.
They also play a key role in preventing infections and helping manage the risks associated with premature birth and critical illnesses.
Nurse practitioners in this field focus specifically on women’s health issues, such as reproductive and gynecological health and prenatal and postnatal care.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Acute care nurse practitioners provide care to those with short-term, severe health issues. They often work in hospital settings. Since they deal with critical issues, these nurse practitioners often have to provide emergency care. This may mean performing life-saving measures such as CPR.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Oncology nurse practitioners specialize in treating and managing cancer-related health issues. This branch of healthcare means that some of a nurse practitioner’s traditional duties look a little different. For example, treatment plans may vary depending on the stage of cancer.
Patients could require surgical intervention or radiation therapy or need palliative care to focus on pain management and improved quality of life. In addition, nurse practitioners can offer their patients psychosocial support to cope with the emotional toll of such a diagnosis.
These nurse practitioners deal with diagnosing and treating mental health conditions and providing psychotherapy. They may work in an inpatient or outpatient care center, depending on the needs of their patients.
In addition, they are responsible for therapy and medication management to help their patients manage their conditions.
These nurse practitioners diagnose and treat conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. This could range from acute injuries such as broken bones to chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis.
In some settings, this may mean that they are involved in surgical procedures. In addition, they may help with postoperative care, such as wound management, pain control, or physical therapy.
Nurse practitioners in this field diagnose and treat skin conditions and diseases such as psoriasis, acne, skin cancer, eczema, and more. They may not only prescribe medications but also perform minor surgeries or procedures such as biopsies.
Due to the primary care provider shortage, telehealth has come as a solution to provide those in rural areas with greater access to healthcare. It has the added benefit of lowered healthcare costs. Nurse practitioners working in telehealth can work from the comfort of their own homes.
Travel Nurse Practitioner Jobs
The job outlook for nurse practitioners remains promising. As the employment growth continues to grow over the next decade, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enter the job market. While it can have its challenges, becoming a nurse practitioner promises competitive pay, job security, the ability to work in a range of fields, and more.
If you’re interested in taking on more of a primary care role and want to try something new, this could be the career for you.