15 Reasons Why Nurse Practitioners are Happy with their Jobs

Written By: Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN

If you are considering a career as an NP, you may wonder if nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs? What defines job satisfaction? Is it how much you are paid, the environment where you work or being recognized for your hard work? In nursing, all of those factors play into career contentment. In this article 15 reasons why nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs, we break down all factors that lead to career satisfaction as an NP. Read on to find out why being a nurse practitioner is a great career choice.

How Happy Are Nurse Practitioners With Their Jobs?

So really, are nurse practitioners happy? According to US News and World Report, nurse practitioners are ranked #2 for best healthcare jobs, citing excellent pay, autonomy in practice, and high job demand. Somewhat surprisingly, a career as an NP ranks #3 overall for best jobs in general for the same reasons listed previously. In a Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report, 82% of NPs indicated that they would still choose to be an NP if they had a choice of redoing their career. With over 325,000 nurse practitioners in the US, that translates to a lot of satisfied NPs! Keep reading to find out why exactly nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs.



(The following 15 reasons will help you understand why nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs.)

1. Making a Difference

We all know that working in the medical field can be a challenge. But finding a job where you truly make a positive impact on someone’s life has been proven to increase job satisfaction and improve your overall well-being. Let’s face it, helping others makes us feel good! This fact is substantiated in Medscapes Nurse Career Satisfaction Report where NPs rank “making a difference in someone’s life” as the most rewarding aspect of the job.

I certainly can attest to the warm and fuzzy feeling of contributing to the health and welfare of my patients. My best memories are that of challenging situations where I could establish a working relationship with a patient who benefited from my medical expertise.

2. Respected

In general, providers are respected by both their patients and those that hire them. This may be because doctors and nurse practitioners are at the top of the medical hierarchy and are hard to replace if they leave. Patients typically respect their providers due to their medical authority, education, and ability to make them feel better.

As a nurse practitioner who most likely spent a few years as an RN prior to earning an advanced practice degree, the respect gained as an NP is a refreshing change from that of an RN. RNs frequently feel undervalued and disrespected. In fact, many RNs who choose to become nurse practitioners do so because of the frustration and lack of appreciation felt as an RN.

3. Autonomy

Nurse practitioners are happy with their careers because they are able to operate autonomously. Treating patients based on our independent judgment and skills is tremendously gratifying as an NP.

Don’t you think that nurse practitioners appreciate the ability to work autonomously more than other medical providers who did not share the experience of first being an RN having to work under the auspices of a physician? I found that the freedom to practice as I thought best was somewhat overwhelming but exhilarating when I first started working as an NP.

4. Pay

If you measure NP job satisfaction according to pay, nurse practitioners should be pleased. The annual mean wage for NPs is between $111,310 and $123,850. This salary can go much higher depending on which state you practice in and your specialty area. With a median pay of $75,330, RNs earn at least $36,000 less than an NP.

It looks like the additional schooling to become a nurse practitioner pays off literally!

5. Job Demand

There is an increasing demand for nurse practitioners. With the baby boomer population coming into their senior years, there is a growing need for this burgeoning group to receive medical care. In addition, the physician shortage is not going away any time soon and NPs can pick up the downtrend in the provider shortage.

Although all nurse practitioners are in demand, certain NP specialties are critically needed. Psychiatric nurse practitioners may be the most in-demand specialty due to the desperate state of our country's mental health at present. Also, family nurse practitioners are highly sought in primary care shortage areas, where they still need over 15,000 providers to fill the gap.

6. Holistic Care

The ability to practice patient-centered care within the medical model is why many nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs. NPs naturally listen to their patients, giving attention to their needs while applying holistic and patient-centered principles for their treatment. By taking into consideration the deeper expectations of your patients, improved patient outcomes can be expected. A contented patient, whose emotional, physical and spiritual expectations for care are met, also makes a successful NP who loves her career.

Finding an NP who prioritizes listening to your opinion is more likely to lead to a positive patient-provider relationship. The ability to nurture your patients and render a safe place for questions goes a long way in satisfaction for both the patient and nurse practitioner providing care.

7. Work Environment

Whether you are working in a clinic, hospital, or HMO, nurse practitioners have typically been treated to the facility's more favorable environments. While RNs toil at a hectic nurses station, NPs work in the quiet of their private provider office or cubby. Some NPs even are privy to special lounges and eating areas with higher quality furniture and cuisine than the rest of the medical staff.

Another reason why nurse practitioners like their jobs is due to the colleagues that they work with. Having to deal with unprofessional and bitter employees as an RN can make work unpleasant. In my experience as a nurse practitioner, physicians, physician assistants, and other NPs have been great office mates and co-workers in general. Having the ability to exchange ideas professionally without the back-stabbing and negative vibes of other nursing jobs has been a pleasure as an NP.

8. Best of Both Worlds

If someone asked me “why do nurse practitioners like their jobs?”, I would say that it is a great profession because it combines the best of nursing and being a provider. Most nurses enjoy the basic premise of being an RN by comforting and assisting their patients to better health. A nurse practitioner can accomplish these same goals and step into an autonomous provider role, which extends nursing practice.

Having the ability to diagnose, treat and prescribe medication brings our nursing profession full circle in the holistic care of our patients.

9. Full Benefit Authority

I would imagine that nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs in states that have full practice authority. Having the ability to treat patients and prescribe medication without the oversight of a physician should certainly make a career as an NP simpler and less stressful compared to those states without full practice authority.

Working as an NP in a state with reduced practice, I still operated relatively autonomously in my work environment at a community health clinic. However, practicing independently would have made patient care smoother and the experience even more fulfilling as a provider.

10. Flexibility

As we all know, working as an RN offers little flexibility. From punching a time clock to having little to no input on decisions directly affecting us to having to work mandatory overtime, RNs often feel like puppets having our strings pulled to make us work for the benefit of our employers. Thankfully, nurse practitioners enjoy more freedom and flexibility in their careers.

NP job satisfaction can be attributed to the flexibility of the position on various levels. As a provider, nurse practitioners many times are not as stringently controlled by managers and administrators. As a position of respect, an NP many times is given choices instead of mandates in healthcare.

With so many options for NP jobs, a nurse practitioner can pretty much work wherever she wants in many different types of environments. As an NP, a family nurse practitioner has even more flexibility as the jack of all trades per se. Plus, choices of working from home, private industry, or owning a health business all lend to a very versatile career.

11. Health Teaching

Nurse practitioners are excellent at health teaching when it comes to their patients. Providing ample time to sit and talk with patients, answer questions and thoroughly explain conditions and treatment options make NPs a popular choice for many people.

Nurse practitioners are happy to have close provider-patient relationships and take satisfaction in teaching those in their care. By helping patients have a voice in their treatment and better understand their health, NPs empower them to advocate for themselves, leading to healthier lives.

12. Specialize in an Area That You are Passionate About

Do you love children, sales, technology, inpatient or outpatient care? It does not matter what you are passionate about in nursing; there is a place for you as a nurse practitioner.

The beauty of an NP career is that you get to “try on” different specialty area hats prior to deciding what you plan to specialize in as a nurse practitioner. Once you find where you love nursing and healthcare, you can be assured that there will be a job waiting for you as a nurse practitioner!

13. Business Owner

As a health-related business owner, NP job satisfaction can be very high. Working in a non-clinical job such as an independently owned healthcare business is an exciting and sometimes lucrative choice for adventurous nurse practitioners. With excellent judgment and communication skills and medical background, nurse practitioners are a good fit for businesses such as health coaches, medical product suppliers, and aesthetic spas.

14. Niche

The role of a nurse practitioner is certainly changing of late. Picking a health niche and developing it into a medical career is one of the latest ways NPs find alternatives to traditional clinical roles.

Health niches can be side practices or entrepreneurial-owned businesses that are very specific to certain populations and types of healthcare. By choosing an in-demand but not overly saturated niche, nurse practitioners have a perfect chance of swiftly becoming successful in their business enterprise, which obviously leads to NP job satisfaction.

15. Help a Wide Variety of Patients

Nurse practitioners in any environment provide holistic patient-centered care that their clients appreciate. As an NP, you will be in a position to make a difference every day to a wide variety of patients. Whether you are working in a clinic, as a health writer, or in research, you will positively touch patients and make a far-reaching impact on the well-being of many.

My Final Thoughts

So why are nurse practitioners happy? Making a real difference in your patients’ lives while being compensated for your hard work leads to job satisfaction which translates to a contented nurse practitioner. Helping others and being recognized for your achievements is a proven avenue to job satisfaction. After reading 15 reasons why nurse practitioners are happy with their jobs, my takeaway is that being a nurse practitioner is a pretty rewarding career. I hope that you think so too.

Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
Donna Reese is a freelance nurse health content writer with 37 years nursing experience. She has worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner in her local community clinic and as an RN in home health, rehabilitation, hospital, and school nursing.