Once you have become a registered nurse, you may want to pursue one of the advanced practice positions available to you. One of these advanced RN jobs is the role of nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners may work in hospitals, health-care agencies, long term care insurance companies, or they may work independently.
As a nurse practitioner, you’ll actually have the opportunity to work closely with patients and do many of the jobs that doctors might perform. You will perform your duties under the general management of a physician, but you will have a lot of personal responsibility and will make many day-to-day decisions independently. In most states, you will even be qualified to prescribe medications. The position of nurse practitioner was created because medical doctors are increasingly becoming specialized in their areas of expertise, and this has caused a shortage of doctors who are general practitioners.
Nurse practitioners usually select a specialty while they are in school, and then they train and work toward that specific area. Many nurse practitioners act as the “family doctor” for their patients. They help patients deal with common illnesses and conditions, and offer health advice. Special fields include pediatrics (working with children), acute care (severe illnesses), or oncology (cancer). You may choose to work with the very young in neonatal units, or with the aging as a geriatric practitioner.
In order to become a nurse practitioner, you will need to obtain your master’s degree, and in most cases, you will need to have several years of nursing practice under your belt before you qualify. Nurse practitioners tend to earn higher nursing salaries. The average starting salary for an NP is $84,000 while the average for an NP in mid-career is more than $91,000.