Why Become a Nurse Practitioner? (21 Great Reasons by an NP)
Written By: Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Many people who decide to pursue a career in healthcare have been drawn to the field for years. Perhaps you were inspired by a personal or family member’s healthcare experience. Maybe you have been a budding scientist from a young age. Or perhaps you look up to a healthcare professional in your family. Whatever your reason, you may find yourself wondering what type of healthcare provider you want to become. So why become a nurse practitioner? Here we will cover 21 great reasons to become a nurse practitioner.
21 GREAT REASONS TO BECOME A NURSE PRACTITIONER
Following are the 21 great reasons why you should become a nurse practitioner.
1. You Will Provide Holistic Patient-Centered Care
As a nurse practitioner, you will be trained to provide patient care using the nursing theory. While the disease states and treatments you will be trained on are the same conditions that physician’s assistants and doctors are trained to manage, you will be trained from a more holistic and patient-centered platform. If hearing the word “holistic” makes you cringe and freak out, take a deep breath, and keep reading. Providing holistic care simply means is that you are trained to look at all the WHOLE patient. So for example, when a patient comes in with a complaint not only will you be able to treat the immediate issue at hand using modern western medicine, but you will look at all the components of this patient’s health and lifestyle to help manage the issue and/or prevent it from occurring again. As a nurse practitioner, you may even be able to incorporate eastern medicine and other treatment modalities into your care where applicable and if you desire.
2. You Can Pick Your Specialty at the Start!
Unlike other healthcare professions if you become a nurse practitioner you will be able to choose your patient population focus when you apply for nurse practitioner school. As a nurse practitioner, you will choose one of six population foci (often used interchangeably with the term “specialty”). This will guide your coursework and clinical experiences during school. If you already know what population you want to work with, you do not have to wait before jumping in like you would as a physician’s assistant or doctor. For example, if you know you want to work in OB/GYN then you can do a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) program. This will prepare you to sit for the WHNP certification exam and practice in the respective clinical setting.
3. A Quick Jump into Healthcare
As you look at your options for being a healthcare provider it is possible that you considered being a doctor at some point but that the 8 years of schooling, plus residency, and possible fellowship may have deterred you. The beauty of nurse practitioner school is that it is much shorter than medical school and unlike physician’s assistant school you also might not have to have previous hands-on clinical experience to enroll. This can be a time saver as well. How long it will take you to complete nurse practitioner school varies a little depending on your background, the type of program you plan to do, and if you are going to study full-time or part-time. To find out more details on how long nurse practitioner school is check out our guide
4. Flexible Options for Schooling
Another great reason to become a nurse practitioner is that there are many different pathways to become one. If you are already a registered nurse (RN) you can do a traditional master’s in nursing (MSN) or doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) program
, but what if you are not yet a nurse? Or what if you have a bachelor’s degree in another field and are hoping to change your career and become a healthcare provider? If either of these scenarios sound like you, there may be more flexible options
for you to become a nurse practitioner rather than another type of healthcare provider.
With the costs of education is it worth it becoming a nurse practitioner? As you decide to become a healthcare provider and further your education it is of course important to consider the financial aspects. While nurse practitioner school can be expensive, the salary often makes up for this. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
, nurse practitioners earn a competitive median salary of $115,800 annually. This is a similar salary to physician’s assistants and a higher salary than RNs. You will make less money than a doctor but will also endure less schooling and have fewer responsibilities.
6. Bright Job Outlook
As a nurse practitioner job security is something you can count on. The healthcare field is booming and there is an increasing need, particularly in medically underserved areas for nurse practitioners. One great reason to be a nurse practitioner is knowing that you’ll rest easy at night with the security of having many job options. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
predicts a job increase of 26% for nurse practitioners between 2018 and 2028. That’s much higher than the growth rate of 5% predicted for all jobs!
7. You Can Continue Working as a Nurse
I’ve mentioned it before, and I will keep on mentioning it, but job flexibility is such a nice component of being a nurse practitioner. Since you will be required to be an RN to get licensed as a nurse practitioner, you will have the potential to keep gaining RN experience alongside your nurse practitioner duties. For example, I work full time as a women’s health nurse practitioner but occasionally I take per diem weekend shifts working as a psychiatric RN. It’s a great way to get experience in other fields while also increasing your income.
8. Independent Practice
Depending on the state you work in nurse practitioners can practice independently. Not only does this mean you would not need to have a physician supervisor, but it also means that you could open your own practice someday. This gives you the creativity and autonomy to provide exactly the type of care you feel your patients deserve. Check out the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) website
to see where your state falls!
9. You Can be a Teacher
If you aspire to teach nursing or nurse practitioner students someday, being a nurse practitioner may give you that ability. Many universities hire nurse practitioners as full or adjunct faculty members to teach their students. Becoming a nurse practitioner can enable to you to give back to nursing education. As a teacher, you will also be more motivated to stay on top of the latest practice guidelines so that you can ensure you are providing the latest flock of nurse practitioners with up to date clinical information. If you become a DNP educated nurse practitioner you will be able to be a full professor at a university if you desire.
10. You can Inform Healthcare Policy
With specialized clinical training and expertise as a nurse practitioner, you will be uniquely poised to not only care for patients, but to also inform healthcare policy. Whether you do that on the local level or go big, becoming a nurse practitioner will give you the skills to impact patients’ lives on a macro level. As a nurse practitioner, you will have a detailed understanding of the healthcare system and patient needs which will enable you to advocate for patients through healthcare policy changes.
11. Clinical Education
Maybe you do not envision yourself teaching in a university setting but want to give back to healthcare education. Nurse practitioner students all need to complete supervised hands-on clinical hours during school. After you gain experience you can start taking students and play a pivotal role in guiding the next group of nurse practitioners into practice. Many nurse practitioners educate medical students in clinical settings as well. This is an opportunity to teach future doctors not only how to provide comprehensive care, but also to have a better understanding of the scope of practice and expertise of other healthcare providers. Through providing clinical education you can play a key role in shaping the future healthcare workforce.
12. Travel Job Opportunities
Have I mentioned the flexibility yet? Locum tenens
(or travel) nurse practitioner positions are highly sought after for both their high pay and variety. If you like the idea of traveling throughout the year to work in different parts of the country, or if you want to try your hand in different subspecialties you will have that flexibility. As a nurse practitioner, you can always partner with a locum tenens agency to take assignments in different areas. This can offer you a lot of adventure and spontaneity in your career!
13. You Can Work Abroad
While nurses are worldwide, the nurse practitioner role is not. However, it is a role that is developed and developing in many countries. If you are hoping to move abroad and live an international life in healthcare, being a nurse practitioner can get you there. Not only will you be a nurse (a role recognized across the world), but you may also be able to work as a nurse practitioner in certain countries
like England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, and more. Keep in mind that the scope of practice may vary based on location and you may have to meet certain language requirements, but it is certainly within reach!
14. Patient Rapport
You may have heard that nursing is the most trusted profession
. Your nurse practitioner title will put patients at ease and your training will underscore the importance of establishing good patient rapport. Building a relationship with a patient takes time and skill but is paramount to providing comprehensive care. As a nurse practitioner, this provider-patient relationship will be emphasized in school during your education and you will see the benefits in your clinical practice.
15. A Challenging Career
You will never be bored as a nurse practitioner. As you hone your skills certain routine clinical scenarios will become easier, but you will also be better positioned to take on more challenging clinical care. You can also learn new procedures and subspecialize through additional training or experience. Additionally, as you grow as a nurse practitioner you can choose to expand your role outside of direct patient care to include healthcare management or teaching as we previously mentioned.
16. You Can Change or Add a Specialty
If you think you’re locked into the patient population you chose when you enrolled in nurse practitioner school, think again! There are a multitude of nurse practitioner specialties and subspecialties that you can focus in after you have already started practicing as a nurse practitioner. Some of these you can do through more formal education or training while others just require experience in a new setting. Check out our 14 Most Popular Types of Nurse Practitioner Specialties and Sub-Specialties
and see what inspires you!
17. You Can Work From Home
In the COVID-19 world, telehealth has made a huge leap. More than ever, healthcare providers are utilizing telehealth services to meet their patients’ needs and nurse practitioners are a big part of this. Some hospitals may need their providers to see patients at home during couple of sessions a week but there are also entire organizations such as NURX
dedicated to healthcare online. If your personal life demands more time at home, or if you’re just looking to try something different, telehealth is a great way for you to work remotely.
18. Flexible Schedule
Have you been dreaming about that three-day weekend? You can have it as a nurse practitioner! Depending on your specialty and work setting, as well as the needs of your community, nurse practitioners can often negotiate a flexible schedule when they are starting a job. This may mean a 32-hour workweek, four 10-hour days in a clinic per week, shift work on a hospital floor, or maybe even a part-time nurse practitioner job. Whatever you are looking for schedule-wise, you can probably find it in the nurse practitioner world.
19. Loan Repayment
Going back to school with US education costs can be daunting, but don’t let that hold you back. While it is true that getting your MSN or DNP can be pricey, being in a public service field means that you have many options for loan forgiveness. Some employers may offer this to you directly, so be sure to ask during your interview. There are also programs such as the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
and Public Service Loan Forgiveness
that can help you get your debt paid off.
20. Patient Education
One of the beautiful aspects of being in the nursing field whether as a nurse or nurse practitioner, is that you are trained to empower your patients through education. One of the most important aspects of preventative care (something that nurse practitioners are heavily involved in) is educating patients on their bodies and health. As you build lasting relationships with your patients, you will have the privilege of watching how empowering them through education to care for themselves positively impacts their health outcomes.
21. It’s Fun!
If the above 20 reasons haven’t made it clear, being a nurse practitioner is so much fun! Not only do you get to dive into the excitement of learning new skills or solving a medical mystery, but you also get to interact with interesting humans on a daily basis. Some of my best nurse practitioner memories involve being in an exam room with a patient and both of us roaring with laughter over a shared experience, a common health misunderstanding, or just life in general. It is a career that will surprise you endlessly and inspire you daily. While being a nurse practitioner is not easy, it certainly is fun!
So why become a nurse practitioner? As we have seen here the reasons are diverse. From making a competitive salary, to living spontaneously, and to positively impacting the lives of others, it is a rewarding career path. To be a nurse practitioner is much more than a job. It is a way of life and a daily commitment. With devotion, compassion, and intensive education and training you will be on the front lines of changing the lives of people in your community and around the world.
Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Lauren Jacobson is a registered nurse and women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about global health and gender-based violence prevention. She is Editor and an Advisory Board Member for the Global Nursing Caucus and volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights as a medical evaluator for asylum seekers.