With so many career paths available, it can be quite difficult to choose just one, finding a career that you’ll be happy in for the entirety of your working years. These working years could be several decades, so it is a question worth taking the time to mull over.
One sector that is experiencing rather large and fast growth is that of healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the healthcare system, but even outside of the pandemic the baby boomer population is aging, which means many are retiring and requiring various levels of care both in the present and future. Eyeing a career in healthcare could be an excellent option for the right candidates.
Here we’ll highlight the profession of a nurse practitioner, which plays an important role in the healthcare system, and the two great reasons to pursue this path.
A Field That Is Growing by Huge Amounts
While it is great to hear that the field you are pursuing has jobs, it’s entirely different to hear it is growing at a much faster rate than the national average (overall jobs). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups nurse practitioners with nurse-midwives and nurse anesthetists and has this category growing by a jaw-dropping 45% by 2029.
What’s the reason behind this massive growth? Much of it can be attributed to the aging baby boomers, but also the fact that the mindset is changing. People are not looking at their healthcare as a reactionary measure, rather, they want to take preventative steps. Nurse practitioners can certainly play a role in this aspect of healthcare.
Command an Impressive Salary
Of course, you don’t want to pick a career based on salary alone, as there is a lot more that goes into job satisfaction, but knowing you can live a comfortable lifestyle is a pro. The BLS has listed the average salary of nurse practitioners as $111,682 in 2020. For many, this would seem like a very reasonable and comfortable salary.
Keep in mind the salary will differ depending on where in the country you work, as well as the industry. Some of the top-paying states include California, Alaska, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Typically, hospitals (local, state, and private) and outpatient care centers pay the highest wages.
So, why can you earn such a high salary as a nurse practitioner? Much of it goes back to your training. Nurse practitioners are highly-trained, have advanced clinical knowledge, and hold degrees and proper licenses and certifications. They invest a lot of time and effort into becoming a nurse practitioner and their salary is a reflection of the level of knowledge and care they can provide.
It should also be noted that the salary isn’t stagnant, and it has grown by around 20% just from 2012-2018. As this job continues to be in demand, watch for the salary to continue to grow.
Other Healthcare Jobs Don’t Stack Up in Terms of Salary
And still, on the topic of salary, it may be of interest to learn that a nurse practitioner is among one of the highest healthcare worker salaries. A family/general practitioner or a nurse anesthetist will pay higher, but the majority of other healthcare worker jobs come in below nurse practitioner. The average yearly salary of a nurse practitioner is over $35,000 per year higher than that of a registered nurse.
The family nurse practitioner salary is something Texas Woman’s University discusses in-depth, as it’s a huge draw in pursuing this career path.
Every Day is Fresh and New
If you’re the type that grows tired of routine and doesn’t like the idea of the same thing day in and day out, then a nurse practitioner career can appeal to you. Each day will be fresh and new, working with different patients and different health issues/concerns. This is far from a desk job and will keep you incredibly active and on your toes at all times.
With that said, it can appeal to those who have excellent organizational and multi-tasking skills. You will be juggling a variety of patient files at any given time, so you need to be able to stay organized and focused.
You Can Work in a Variety of Settings
It’s also important to note that nurse practitioners don’t just work in one setting, they can work in a variety of settings. This helps to give you more choice and means you can look forward to movement in your career.
As mentioned above, some of the most common workplace settings are hospitals, private practice, and outpatient clinics. Some other areas you’ll find nurse practitioners include community health care centers, urgent care, and inpatient hospital departments. You may choose to start your career in one area and then by the time you finish your career you may be in a different facility.
Hours Vary Depending on Work Setting
In terms of how many hours you’ll be working, nurse practitioners can easily find full-time work but it may not necessarily be Monday to Friday 9 am-5 pm. Shift work is common for those who work in an emergency room setting, or even in the hospital. While some don’t like the idea of shift work, others prefer it as it works best for their lifestyle and personal life schedule. At least you’ve got that flexibility should you choose to use it.
Want to Be Your Own Boss – Open a Private Clinic
If you’ve always had dreams of being your own boss and being in control of your career destiny, then you may also appreciate the opportunity to open a private clinic. You don’t have to work in a hospital or community health center, you can open a practice and grow your list of patients.
Before opening a private practice, it can be wise to look at the options available to residents in the area you wish to work. Is there are shortage of healthcare professionals? Is there a need for a nurse practitioner’s office? Is the area already over-saturated? This can help you to figure out where your practice would best be suited and would have the most impact.
Choose Your Mode of Schooling
If you’re worried about the schooling it takes to become a nurse practitioner, the good news is that there are many flexible options nowadays. Not only are there different paths, but there are also in-person or online programs so you can choose what fits with your lifestyle, schedule, timeline, and budget.
You Are Ready for a Challenge
Then there is the simple reason that you may be ready for a challenge. Perhaps you are in a career that seemed like it would be ideal for you but just isn’t giving you the kind of satisfaction and fulfillment you had hoped for. This is an opportunity to challenge yourself, aim for something better, and pursue your dream career.
You’ll Get to Work with Some Exceptional People
Part of what makes a job exciting, fulfilling, and satisfying is the people you work with. The healthcare industry is filled with those who are compassionate, want to help others, are highly educated and skilled, and have a level of drive and motivation that isn’t present in all industries. In other words, you’ll get to work with some exceptional people.
You Are Helping Others and Providing a Positive Impact
Perhaps the best reason to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner is what it can give you back in terms of job fulfillment. This is a career where you will help others every day. You will be helping them to work through difficult health situations, easing concerns, helping them to understand a diagnosis and treatment, and having a positive impact on the lives of many. And it’s not just adults, nurse practitioners may also be working with kids, giving you a very well-rounded career option.
You Can Choose a Specialty Area
You may also wish to specialize in specific issues or areas, allowing you to carve out a niche for yourself. Some of these areas can include:
- Family medicine
- Adult gerontology primary care
- Adult gerontology acute care
- Acute care
- Cardiac medicine
- Nurse midwife
- Pediatric acute care
- Neonatal medicine
- Women’s health
- Psychiatry and mental health
Some of these areas of specialty may appeal to you more than others, and they can offer variety in your career, allowing you to start on one path and then switch later down the road.
It Could be the Perfect Path for You
Life as a nurse practitioner won’t always be easy. It is often filled with long hours, plenty of stress, a lot of time on your feet, and it can be quite emotional. Having said that, it is also the kind of career where you can have an impact on people every day, challenging yourself in all the best ways possible. It’s a blend of skills, knowledge, compassion, and care and if this sounds like something that appeals to you – then it’s well worth looking into.