The Nurse Practitioner’s Job is Widely Divided: Choose Wisely
February 3, 2021
The nurse practitioner is, by definition, more of a medical practitioner than a nurse. Some of these advanced medical professionals are qualified enough to even earn the right of independent practice in some states. In other words, the nurse practitioner is more physician than nurse, and even in states where they are not allowed to practice without a licensed physician’s supervision, NPs usually grab the highest nursing positions in major medical facilities. Therefore, if you are an experienced nurse who is thinking about studying nurse practitionership for your MSN, you are most certainly considering one of the best choices available in the field of nursing as a whole.
Why Does Your Choice of Specialization as an NP Matter So Much?
Any field of specialization that you choose for your MSN-NP certification course must be selected only after careful consideration of all the best options at your disposal. It’s true that even the average salary of a nurse practitioner is well over $110,000/year, but there are NPs that earn well below that, and then there are others who earn a lot more than the average too. Then there is also the employability factor to consider. Make no mistake about the fact that there is almost always an incessant shortage of nurses in the United States, especially now that a pandemic is sweeping through the country. That, however, is not an assurance of the fact that after completing your nurse practitioner’s degree, you will be immediately provided a job to suit your educational qualifications.
An RN who is planning to become an NP cannot ignore imperative factors such as market demand, their personal preferences for specific medical sectors, geographical locations, roles and experiences. It is important for aspiring NPs to first know the options they have at their disposal, before signing up for just any specialty. Let’s look through some of the most popular NP specializations next, so that you can make an informed decision.
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
On taking a look through this post which pits the career prospects of an adult geriatric nurse practitioner (AGNP) against that of a FNP, we found that about 67% of all nurse practitioners choose to become a FNP, while only 6% become AGNPs. What this data conveys to everyone is that family nurse practitionership is not just the more popular degree course between the two NP specialties, but it is by far the most popular one in general.
The FNP specialization is well deserving of its popularity for multiple reasons. It’s not just the fact that they often earn more than $110,000/year, but also the responsibility, duty and authority that comes with becoming a family nurse practitioner which makes the certification well worth pursuing. Even from a purely career-oriented perspective, a family nurse practitioner has more opportunities to grow and find employment that suits their qualification when compared to any other NP.
They are more versatile and useful in medical care facilities naturally, since FNPs can essentially treat patients belonging to almost any age groups instead of being limited to only infants and children, like the NNPs and PNPs. Consequently, FNPs develop a much wider range of skills over time, since they gain significantly more experience and confidence in patient care through direct exposure than more specialized nurse practitioners possibly can.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
A less versatile position than the FNP, AGNP programs are ideal for nurses who have prior experience of working with older patients such as seniors. However, a certified AGNP nurse can treat anyone above the age of 13, so they are also very useful and versatile in their ability to treat patients at their own primary care clinics, or as specialist nurses in a medical facility. Unfortunately, AGNPs will often end up with jobs that pay the lowest in the field of nurse practitionership, given that the average salary for adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (approx. $91,000) is less than even the national average for NPs in the US. Nevertheless, due to their ability to treat a much wider group of patients than most other NPs, AGNPs enjoy a high rate of employability as well.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
The average salary for a PNP is roughly the same as AGNPs, but they do have a lower employment rate than the average AGNP. The low employability is directly related to the fact that PNPs are restricted to only treating children, teens and young adults of 0-21 years of age. It is a specialization fit for nurses who prefer working with younger patients, and especially children and teens. Their service is critical to the communities they serve and depending on the concerned state, they could be capable of the following, without direct physician supervision:
- Immunizing children
- Screening children and teens for birth and developmental disorders
- Conducting children’s physical examinations
- Diagnosing and writing prescriptions to treat general health issues for children, teens and young adults
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
Neonatal nurse practitioners are highly paid NPs, with their average salaries ($126,034) nearly touching the upper limits for NPs in the US. Although they may have a much smaller range when it comes to the age group of their potential patients, the work that they do is crucial and often critical for the wellbeing of both mothers and their children. Despite treating only newborns, infants and their mothers to a degree, very few NNPs sit idly around, given the high rate of births in the US. The main bulk of their duties include, but aren’t limited to, diagnosing, testing and then treating newborns and infants.
There are various other factors that also come into play later on, other than just the NP specialty you choose. For example, your experience and clinical hours will decide a lot regarding how much independence you will be given to treat patients. The clinical hour requirements also vary quite a bit, along with the qualifications necessary to work as an independent NP, even in states like New Mexico and Alabama that do allow it. It is imperative that an RN does his/her own research to make sure that their specialty and experience matches up with the career prospects that they have in mind, especially in respect to where they plan to live and work post-graduation.