There's no doubt about it: Nurse practitioners are poised to become the next generation's primary care providers in this country.
After years of practicing as an NP and being a nurse educator, here are three other truths I foresee for the field of NPs, plus one big fat myth I would love to dispel!
Three Big Truths:
1. NPs have a bright and exciting future.
Money magazine just listed NP as the fourth most desirable job in the country (see the article here). With healthcare reform on the way and less than two percent of students in medical school looking to go into primary care, it's nurse practitioners who will be the primary care providers in this country. It's a great time to become a nurse practitioner.
2. Job satisfaction runs high.
Most NPs are able to work part time and balance a family life with a satisfying professional life. I have patients who have followed me from practice to practice over the past 19 years because they know that I care about their healthcare needs and emphasize disease prevention as well as health maintence. Partnering with the patient to improve his or her health is enormously rewarding.
3. There are loan forgiveness programs for NPs.
If you are not attached to living in big urban areas, there are health provider shortage areas (HPSAs) across the country where employment can qualify you to apply for loan forgiveness or repayment from the government through the National Health Services Corps at http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/.
Big Fat Myth: NPs are "mid-level."
NPs are not mid-level. They are advanced practice nurses. There is no higher level of practice in the nursing profession. NPs are regulated by boards of registered nurses across the country. Although many states still have MD supervisory or collaborative language in their statutes, NPs are independent practitioners and are not regulated or administered by any boards of medicine.