What is an Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner? (Answered by a Nurse)
Written By: Lauren Rivera BSN, RNC-NIC
The endocrine system creates hormones released by glands that control nearly all the processes in the body. These hormones help to control functions such as metabolism, growth and development, emotions and mood, fertility, sleep, and blood pressure. When these hormones become imbalanced it can cause a myriad of health issues.
An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders related to the glands and diseases of the endocrine system such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth disorders, obesity, infertility, adrenal issues, pituitary, and hormonal issues. The main goal of an endocrinology nurse practitioner is to restore balance to the patient’s hormone systems.
Endocrinology nurse practitioners treat patients as young as infants through adulthood, mainly in private offices, but may practice in hospital systems as well.
Registered Nurses interested in restoring hormone balance and managing diabetes may be interested in learning how to become an endocrinology nurse practitioner. Read further to find out What is an endocrinology nurse practitioner?
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What Does An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner Do?
Endocrinology nurse practitioners diagnose and treat hormone-related conditions and correct hormone imbalances. Endocrinology nurse practitioner duties are mostly conducted in the office and include performing examinations, screenings, and ordering diagnostic tests. They may perform ultrasounds and assist in biopsies of the thyroid. Endocrinology NPs provide education to patients with diabetes, they may instruct on insulin administration, monitoring blood glucose, and following a diabetic-friendly diet.
Do Endocrinology Nurse Practitioners Only Provide Care for Adults?
Endocrinology nurse practitioners take care of patients as young as infants through adulthood. While it is more common for an adult to have a hormonal issue, infants may be born with disorders of their endocrine system as well. Hypothyroidism may affect infants, especially those born prematurely. Infants and children may struggle with maintaining their blood glucose and may develop diabetes which requires constant monitoring. There are many children who struggle with growth disorders and issues with their pituitary glands as well. Endocrinology nurse practitioners are needed to care for children and adults.
Where Do Endocrinology Nurse Practitioners Work?
Typically, endocrinology nurse practitioners are employed in private practices, however, some may work in hospitals or other clinics that treat specific hormone issues, such as, fertility or obesity clinics. Other endocrinology nurse practitioners may desire to work in diabetes clinics and educate patients on diabetes management and treatment.
Endocrinology nurse practitioners who are interested in pediatrics can work with the pediatric population in private offices, clinics, or hospitals.
After practicing endocrinology for a few years, nurses may decide to become an endocrinology nurse practitioner who works for a pharmaceutical company, academic institution, or possibly a research organization conducting studies to better endocrinology patients’ lives.
What Is the Typical Work Schedule For An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner?
When becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner, you can expect to work standard office hours conducting patient visits throughout the day. Some offices may offer evening hours, working an evening or two may be necessary. Most endocrinology nurse practitioners do not work weekends or holidays. However, some endocrinology NPs may see patients in the hospital, and it may be necessary to conduct visits during off-hours or provide “on-call” hours to be available to prescribe medication or order diagnostic testing.
Why Become An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner?
Deciding to become an endocrinology nurse practitioner will give you the unique opportunity to improve patient’s outcomes by balancing their hormones and helping them lead a healthier life. Treating patients with diabetes and other complicated hormonal diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be challenging but satisfying. Endocrinology nurse practitioners may also help patients lose weight which may have a big impact on improving people’s health. They may also assist in the treatment of fertility issues, which may lead to the birth of a baby. Endocrinology nurse practitioners build long-lasting relationships with patients. Treating hormonal issues and autoimmune diseases can be complicated because there is no concrete treatment, becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner and finding solutions for patients to help improve their life will be very rewarding. Endocrinology NPs have the unique ability to work across diverse settings, working in outpatient clinics or private practices will create a greater work-life balance. Endocrinology nurse practitioners have a profession that is continuously required, which provides job security and the opportunity to earn a six-figure salary.
How Long Does It Take to Become An Endocrinology NP?
The length of becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner varies greatly depending on the course of study a nurse takes. Generally, it takes 6 or 7 years to become an endocrinology nurse practitioner, between obtaining a BSN and an MSN. However, it may be extended if the nurse decides to work in a unit and gain experience first.
How Much Does It Cost to Become An Endocrinology NP?
The price of becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner differs widely between in-state public tuition and private and out-of-state tuition. Costs may be decreased by choosing public in-state programs.
The cost of becoming an endocrinology NP varies significantly contingent on which school, program, and location is selected. A four-year BSN program costs at least $40,000 on average but may range upwards of $100,000. An MSN program fluctuates as well, they typically start around $35,000 -$100,000.
It may be helpful to apply for any grants or scholarships that you may be eligible for to help lessen the cost of the program.
Licensing exams and renewals must also be paid for by the nurse practitioner, the fees are included below.
What Is the Difference Between Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner And Endocrinology Nurse?
An endocrinology nurse typically treats patients in the hospital with a variety of hormonal issues, they carry out orders prescribed by a physician or nurse practitioner such as treatment protocols and medications. They also provide education and general care for the patient.
An endocrinology nurse practitioner typically sees patients in a private office, and sometimes in the hospital. They assess patients, order diagnostic tests, perform ultrasounds and invasive testing, prescribe medication, and provide education.
Step-By-Step Process Of Becoming An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner
The following is a list of steps to help assist you in becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner.
1. Apply to an ACEN or CCNE Accredited Undergraduate Nursing Program:
After graduating high school, enroll for either a 2-year Associate Degree in Nursing program (ADN) or a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. A BSN is currently preferred by most health care systems. Verify the program is accredited.
2. Graduate with a Degree:
Expose yourself to as many clinical situations as possible during your schooling to gain experience and decide which area interests you the most. Graduate with a high GPA to ensure chances of gaining a position and being accepted into a master’s level program.
3. Take and Pass the NCLEX exam:
exam (The National Council Licensure of RNs ) is a test that assesses aptitude in basic-level nursing knowledge and skill. The test is taken via computer at a testing facility that is proctored by an official. Consider taking a review course to help prepare you for the NCLEX exam.
4. Obtain Your Registered Nurse Licensure:
Acquire registered nurse licensure via your state’s board of nursing after passing the NCLEX exam.
5. Gain Experience in Endocrinology:
While it is not mandatory, gaining experience is tremendously beneficial in preparing nurses prior to becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner. Most nurses will work 1-3 years, this will allow you increased experience treating patients with issues of the endocrine system. If there is not a unit dedicated specifically to endocrinology, you can work on a med-surg unit where you will become competent in assessment skills, and care for patients with issues such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, pituitary or adrenal issues, and various other hormonal issues that will prepare you to be an endocrinology nurse practitioner.
6. Complete a Bachelor’s Program:
It is ideal for you to complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing prior to continuing to a master’s level program. If you prefer to work prior to earning a BSN, obtain your ADN first, then consider attending bachelor’s level courses part-time while working as an RN.
7. Obtain certifications in your specialty:
Obtaining specialty certifications boosts your probability of employment. They also aid in your role as an endocrinology nurse practitioner. Specialty certifications are listed further in the article. It is also necessary to become certified in Basic life support (BLS) and Advanced life support (ACLS) to provide care.
8. Apply to Graduate School:
Prior to applying, ensure you research pre-requisites and eligibility criteria. Admittance requirements vary for each program, building a robust portfolio, and joining hospital committees will strongly improve your chances of admittance into your preferred program.
9. Graduate from an accredited Nurse Practitioner Program:
Nurses interested in becoming NPs who specialize in endocrinology must attend a master's level nursing program. In addition to generic nurse practitioner requirements, choose a program that offers clinical focus on endocrinology such as Duke University. An NP program typically takes 2-3 years to complete.
10. Become a Certified Nurse Practitioner:
Following completion of your nurse practitioner program, you need to sit for the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) exam. There is not a specific APRN exam or certification for endocrinology, therefore, most nurse practitioners will take the Family nurse practitioner-board certification exam or similar. Choose the Pediatric Primary Care exam if your choice is to focus solely on pediatrics. The cost without membership to specific organizations is $395 for a 175 -question exam. You must have a current RN license and prove graduation from a master’s nurse practitioner program. Renewal is required every 5 years.
11. Attain Nurse Practitioner State Licensure:
Requirements vary from state to state, contact your state board of licensing to obtain state licensure. Next, apply for prescriptive authority if required by the state that you plan on practicing in. Register with the DEA, if it will be necessary for your position to prescribe controlled substances.
Renewing state licensure is required every 3 years but varies by state. Continuing education credits and a required amount of practice hours are necessary for renewal. Retaining an NP license/certification is dependent upon maintaining a registered nurse (RN) license.
12. Apply for a Position as an Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner:
You may have already established relationships with endocrinology practices during your NP program, reach out to apply for a position, or ask for references if you plan to obtain a position elsewhere. Create your resume and practice interviewing skills. It is a good idea to ask if it is possible to shadow a practitioner
for a day for any position you may be interested in.
13. Apply for and graduate from a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (DNP):
There is not a specific Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in endocrinology yet, however you may still be interested in earning your DNP. You will need an active registered nurse’s license, a minimum amount of work experience as an RN- which varies by institution, as well as a BSN and/or MSN degree from an accredited institution. Nurses who hold a DNP may remain as providers in direct patient care or they may desire to transition into administrative or leadership roles. DNPs also practice in organizational leadership roles, as nurse managers, or maybe involved in health policy or health informatics. They may also lead research programs.
Optional Certifications You Can Earn To Enhance Your Job Role As An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner
Certifications may further augment your knowledge and expertise as an endocrinology NP; however, certification is not required for practice. Here are 2 certifications that may be worth obtaining.
Available through the Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. In order to apply, you must have 2 years of experience as a registered nurse, 1000 hours of diabetes education experience, with 400 of that taken place in the year preceding licensure. You must also have 15 hours of continuing education related to diabetes. The exam consists of 175 questions and is $350, certification is valid for 5 years. Renewal fees are $250.
If you plan on focusing on reproductive endocrinology consider this specialized certification course. You must hold an active nursing license in the US, have at least 2000 hours of experience as an RN, and a minimum of 1000 hours in women’s health. It is approved for 16 continuing education credits and consists of 16 modules. Complete a post-exam with a minimum of 70 percent in two attempts. Price is 600$.
List Of Fellowships & Residency Programs For Endocrinology Nurse Practitioners
Duke University School of Nursing: Endocrinology Specialty: Endocrinology Specialty | Duke University School of Nursing
This is the first endocrinology specialty program offered for NPs in the United States. It is offered to both nurse practitioner students and current practicing NPs and provides advanced training in the care of individuals with diabetes and endocrine conditions. The curriculum includes three specific endocrinology courses and requires one on-campus visit for hands-on insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) training, as well as complex patient simulations. It is comprised of 168 supervised clinical hours in endocrine settings and includes 8 credit hours.
Starting Salary Of An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner
An endocrinology nurse practitioner’s salary begins at about $79,950, with a per-hour rate of $38.44 and a monthly salary of $6,660.
The starting salary of an endocrinology nurse practitioner fluctuates depending on which geographical area you practice in. Urban areas, especially states with big cities, have a tendency to pay higher. Private offices, hospitals, and clinics have a very diverse pay scale. Hospitals, especially larger health systems, mostly offer the highest pay rates.
| Per Hour|| $38.44|
| Per Month|| $6,660|
| Per Year|| $79,950|
Average Salary Of An Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner
Nationally, the average salary for endocrinology NPs is around $110,000. Salary varies depending on which state that you practice in. California typically pays the highest for endocrinology nurse practitioners.
The average endocrinology nurse practitioner salary varies depending on geographical location, and setting in which you practice in. Education level, credentials, certifications, and years of experience all have the potential to increase salary.
| Per Hour|| $52.81|
| Per Month|| $9,150|
| Per Year|| $109,840|
Job Market For Endocrinology Nurse Practitioners
Patients requiring care for hormonal issues are constantly increasing, especially those requiring diabetes, fertility, and thyroid care. According to the CDC
, 34.2 million people in the United States currently have diabetes. Nurse practitioners specializing in endocrinology will continually be in demand.
Newer endocrinology nurse practitioners will constantly be necessary to take the place of NPs who decide to practice in other offices or areas of expertise, as well as replace those who retire.
Useful Organizations & Associations
The following are useful organizations and associations that will be helpful if you desire to have a career as an endocrinology nurse practitioner. It is important to stay up to date on current evidence-based research, these organizations will offer continuing education that will enhance your practice.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners is a professional organization for nurse practitioners and NP students. Their mission is to empower nurse practitioners to improve healthcare through practice, research, education, leadership, and advocacy.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology is a global community of endocrine-focused clinicians. Their mission is to elevate the practice of clinical endocrinology to improve global health.
The Endocrine Nurses Society is a non-profit organization for Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, and Health Professionals interested in interdisciplinary practice caring for people with, or at risk for, endocrine disorders. Their mission statement is to advance the highest standards of endocrine nursing practice, education, and research. They aim to promote healthy lifestyle choices to prevent and manage endocrine-related health disorders.
Federation of International Nurses in Endocrinology is a global network of nurses in endocrinology promoting optimal health outcomes for people with endocrine disorders.
My Final Thoughts
Endocrinology nurse practitioners are trained professionals who have a dynamic role in assisting patients with hormonal issues and disorders of the endocrine system. They provide care and education for patients struggling with diabetes, thyroid issues, pituitary and adrenal issues, obesity, infertility, and growth disorders among many other hormonal disorders. Endocrinology NPs are employed in private offices, clinics, and hospitals specializing in infants through adults. After learning what is an endocrinology nurse practitioner and what it takes to become one, as well as what is the average salary for an endocrinology nurse practitioner, I wish you success in your path to becoming an endocrinology nurse practitioner.
Lauren Rivera BSN, RNC-NIC
Lauren Rivera is a registered nurse with over 13 years of experience in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Besides her nursing license, she is nationally certified in neonatal nursing, and is a certified breastfeeding counselor.