Research conducted by healthcare recruiter Merritt Hawkins found that nurse practitioners ranked as the most recruited healthcare industry role for 2013; the first time that this profession landed in the top twenty list of research carried out by this firm.
Since then, the role of nurse practitioner has certainly met and even outdone expectations to reach a 30% rate in growth between 2010 and 2020. In fact, the growth of nurse practitioners as a healthcare role has been significantly higher than that of primary care doctors.
So, why exactly are nurse practitioners enjoying such high demand?
1. Changing Demographics
In 2015, a report carried out by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMCO) found that the US population is expected to grow by around 10% by 2025. And, the greatest growth is expected to be seen within the senior demographic, with numbers of elderly people expected to grow by more than 45%. Conversely, the number of people aged under 18 is only expected to rise by around 5% during the same time period.
Since the senior demographic tends to have more use for healthcare services compared to people of other age ranges, it’s no surprise that this aging population has driven an increasing demand for skilled healthcare professionals like nurse practitioners.
Between 2012-2013, analysis by IMS Health’s Institute for Health Informatics suggested that specialist visits for chronic health conditions — which tend to be higher among older patients compared to other demographics — increased by 5%.
And, due to the significant growth in the number of older patients expected, we can expect the demand for specialist healthcare provided by nurse practitioners to increase even more.
2. Shortage of Primary Care Doctors
The US is currently experiencing an increase in demand for all medical professionals, which has recently been heightened further and made even more apparent due to the COVID19 pandemic. Along with a shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals, a shortage of primary care physicians is another issue currently being faced in the US healthcare system.
Research suggests that the US could be down by almost 140,000 doctors in the next 10-15 years. As a result, nurse practitioners are needed to step in and fill this huge gap in the healthcare system.
In twenty states across the US, nurse practitioners are able to take on as much responsibility and offer the same quality of care as doctors, including diagnosing patients, referring patients for specialist treatment if needed, prescribing medication or other treatments, and offering health advice to their patients.
3. Growing Popularity of Retail Clinics
Retail health clinics are growing massively in the US, with numbers jumping from just three hundred in 2007 to thousands by 2014, and more have opened up since. These mini-clinics tend to be located at pharmacies, drugstores, and even supermarkets and provide patients with a convenient and easy way to get medical attention when they need it.
Retail clinics have become widely popular for a variety of different reasons, including the high deductible health plans, after-hours convenience, and increased coverage from a range of private health companies.
MinuteClinic is one example of an increasingly popular health clinic that works in partnership with stores such as Wal-Mart and Target to provide in-store health services to customers. Nurse practitioners are at the front and center of this brand and are usually hired to lead the clinic. As a result, nurse practitioners are in a leading role as primary healthcare providers.
This is good news for everybody involved, particularly with nurse practitioners being more cost-effective than physicians for both employers and patients, while still being able to provide the same standards of care.
4. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
2014 saw the Congressional Budget Office state that affordable health insurance would become more accessible to around twenty-six million American citizens by 2017 thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The act included a range of important investments designed to allow the healthcare system to further expand the role of nurse practitioners in patient care delivery. So far, millions of dollars have been poured into investments in outpatient clinics managed by nurse practitioners.
The act also included providing extra funding to colleges, universities, and nursing schools to encourage more enrollment in nurse practitioner degree programs such as this BSN to FNP program and doctor of nursing practice programs — which are required for a registered nurse to make the leap to a nurse practitioner role.
In addition, nurse practitioner training has become much more accessible for nurses who wish to follow this career path with several options available for nurses who would prefer to study online.
Still Looking For Some Great Reasons to Become a Nurse Practitioner?
Whether you are already a licensed practical nurse, a registered nurse, or simply a caring individual who is interested in pursuing a lucrative and rewarding career in this field, there’s never been a better time than the present to consider training as a nurse practitioner.
Not only is working as a nurse practitioner a very rewarding career path both financially and emotionally, but there are several other great reasons to consider this type of work, including:
– The Options
If you’d like to work in a career where you have lots of options to pursue what you love and try out different areas, becoming a nurse practitioner could be ideal for you. There are several specialty areas you can choose from as a nurse practitioner.
A family nurse practitioner will work with people of all ages, and these tend to be the nurse practitioners who are most likely to be running mini-clinics in retail stores or expanding the range of services and the scope of appointments available at a doctor’s office.
If you’d prefer to work with adults, you might want to study to become an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, while pediatric and neonatal nurse practitioners work exclusively with babies and children.
And the options don’t stop with the type of work that you can do; as a nurse practitioner, you can decide where you’d prefer to work, which hours, and whether or not you would like to specialize in a certain area of healthcare or medicine.
– Increasing Demand and Job Security
Due to the factors mentioned above, the demand for highly skilled nurse practitioners is on the rise. An aging population, shortage of primary care physicians, and recent events such as the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted the need for good nurse practitioners even further.
As the healthcare system works hard to meet this demand, it puts nurses who want to improve their career at even more of an advantage. The high demand means that finding work as a nurse practitioner will never be difficult, and in many cases, employers are offering funding to help nurses facilitate this career.
– The Salary
While the salary might not be the first reason most caring and empathetic people decide to get into a career as a nurse practitioner, there’s no denying that you can be handsomely rewarded financially in this role.
The average salary for nurse practitioners in the US currently stands at around $115,000 – around $30,000 more per year than what you could expect to earn as a registered nurse. And if you are a licensed practical nurse looking to get into the nurse practitioner role, you could end up earning double what you are currently paid.
– Reward and Satisfaction
Working as a nurse practitioner can easily be one of the most rewarding careers in the world. Becoming a nurse practitioner could be the ideal choice for you if you want an interesting and stimulating career where no two days are ever going to be the same.
Each day on the job, you will be working with a wide range of people from all walks of life and be able to make a real difference in their lives.
Nurse practitioners get to enjoy a much greater deal of responsibility compared to other nursing careers. In twenty states, nurse practitioners are given full practice authority, meaning that you will be able to diagnose conditions and prescribe medications without needing the approval of a doctor.
Even in those states where nurse practitioners do not yet have full practice authority, they still have a lot of autonomy and freedom when it comes to making decisions regarding the care of their patients.
– Making a Change
It’s clear to see that the healthcare system in the US could use some improvement, especially after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Studies have found that the US comes in last in terms of quality of care compared to the cost when compared to other developed nations around the world.
As a nurse practitioner, you will have a unique platform from which you can advocate for your patients and get involved with health policy to improve the outlook for everybody.
With the US facing a healthcare crisis, good nurse practitioners are needed to step in and ensure that patients are getting the standard of care that they demand.