The role of a nurse practitioner keeps on expanding. Many of them have acquired enough education and experience to focus on family services and adult healthcare. A good number of them are taking an interest in acute care, women’s health, and primary childcare.
Initially, it was the work of NPs to deliver medical treatment and care to different types of patients. That would only happen under the supervision of a medically certified doctor. They would also act as an extension to doctors to improve children’s health.
Nevertheless, since nurse practitioners nowadays have a Master of Science Degree in Nursing, their roles have become broader. Today, there is full practice authority for nurse practitioners.
This full practice authority means that Nurse Practitioners (NPs) can now evaluate and diagnose patients. They can also interpret and order diagnostic tests, manage and initiate treatment, and even prescribe medications.
Pros of the growing nurse practitioner role
Some of the advantages of the growing nurse practitioner role include:
- Recognition – NPs can expect to get the same professional recognition as their medical doctor counterparts. They can also perform many tasks that MDs do, like initiating treatment and serving on hospital boards.
- Unlimited areas of work – NPs can work in an array of fields, including doctors’ offices, administration, education, and hospitals.
- Better salaries – Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the annual average salary of a nurse practitioner working in an outpatient care center is $116,550.
- Increased autonomy – Because some of them have similar roles to those of medical doctors, NPs do not have to discuss all details about patient care with physicians. Also, many organizations are creating an environment where NPs can practice independently.
Disadvantages of being a nurse practitioner
Some of the disadvantages of being a nurse practitioner include:
- Long working hours – NPs have to work long hours of between eight and twelve hours daily. Some also rotate shifts, which can be stressful, tiring, and challenging to plan personal events.
- Increased liability – NPs risk legal ramifications if they fail to provide enough care, make errors when diagnosing patients, or give the wrong dosage.
- Rigorous education and training – Unlike other nursing positions, NPs require the most education and training. One must complete a Master of Science Degree in Nursing, get a license, finish a residency, or do a doctorate in a specialized field to become a Nurse Practitioner.
Challenges that nurse practitioners face
Although a career as a nurse practitioner is rewarding, it also has its challenges. For example, NPs must work with supervising physicians for different shifts. Each doctor has a different attitude towards medicine and varying style of practice. The challenge for nurse practitioners is to find ways of accommodating each doctor’s preferences.
Despite their experience and level of education, they cannot sign charts or answer specific patient questions. Also, it is expected of the NPs to know almost as much as MDs, notwithstanding many have less schooling. That forces them to learn on the job, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.
So, is it worth becoming a nurse practitioner? Students who want to join the medical field as nurse practitioners should expect expanded roles that put them almost at par with those of medical doctors. It is also worth it to become an NP because you will be providing care for patients with both primary and acute conditions. Furthermore, you will earn a better salary than that of a registered nurse.