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12 Nurse Practitioner Specialties in High Demand – 2022


Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C

Over the last 10-15 years, nurse practitioners have started to play a role in healthcare, positively impacting overall patient outcomes. They help fill the void left by the current physician shortage and help meet the healthcare needs of rural communities. Between 2020 and 2030, the job outlook of nurse practitioners will increase by 52.16%, which is significantly higher than the average job outlook of 7.74% for all occupations. In other words, more than 114,900 new NP job opportunities are to occur in this time frame.

Nurse practitioners have endless opportunities to pursue, so have you thought which nurse practitioner specialty is in the highest demand? Below, I will provide a list of 12 nurse practitioner specialties in high demand in 2022.


WHAT NURSE PRACTITIONER SPECIALTIES ARE IN HIGH DEMAND?


As stated above, there are many nurse practitioner specialties in high demand, but some specialties are in greater need. Below is a list of the 10 most in-demand nurse practitioner specialties in no particular order.

1. Family Practice

Family Practice is one of the most common nurse practitioner specialties to pursue and is in the top 3 for most in-demand nurse practitioner specialties. As of April 2022, almost 70% of NPs work in family practice—which is not surprising as it is one of the most common specialties to pursue as an NP.

FNPs play a very active role in the patient’s overall health—in a way, they manage and coordinate the care between specialties to ensure the patient receives appropriate care. They also place a great emphasis on preventative care, with the intent to improve the quality of health of their patients. FNPs complete assessment, diagnosis and medicine management of both acute and chronic problems as well as completing routine physicals and follow-ups of chronic diagnoses.

According to the AAMC, by 2034, there is an expected shortage of between 17,800 to 48,000 physicians in family medicine, indicating an even greater need for family nurse practitioners to work in the family practice setting. An area of great need for family medicine is the rural communities—and NPs can help fulfill this demand—especially in states where NPs have full practice authority.

2. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care is another NP specialty that is in high demand. According to AANP, 7% of NPs pursue this specialty in school--which I find incredibly low, and I will be interested to see how this trends over the next ten years. I say this because a larger proportion of the population lives longer with multiple co-morbidities. Therefore, the need for adult-gerontology primary care NP is even greater to ensure appropriate and safe care is delivered to the older adult population.

There are differences between caring for an adult and the older adult, especially regarding medication management and long-term goals of care--and the adult-gerontology primary care NP can aid in the delivery of this care. The adult-gerontology primary care specialist provides physicals, routine follow-ups for chronic medical problems, assessment, diagnosis, and medicine management of health problems. They can work in a clinic, long-term care setting, and even complete house calls.

3. Psychiatric Mental Health

Psychiatric Mental Health is a very in-demand and fast-growing specialty—and is also most likely in the top 3 most in-demand nurse practitioner specialties. The specialty has been in demand for several years, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, further supporting the need for more NPs to pursue this specialty.

Psychiatric mental health NPs deliver care in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Psychiatric mental health NPs address patients' mental health needs, prescribe medications, and perform routine follow-ups with their patients ensuring proper treatment is provided to their patients.

Places where PMHNPs work include clinics, inpatient acute care, inpatient psychiatric facilities, and even telehealth. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of growth in providing psychiatric mental health care to patients via telehealth. Telehealth can provide even more privacy and convenience to patients seeking mental health services--which may entice more patients to seek treatment.

4. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care

Just like primary care, the acute care aspect of healthcare is in need of adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners. As I mentioned above, a greater proportion of the population lives longer, indicating the need for specialists to deliver care to the older adult in the inpatient setting. The adult-gerontology acute care NP can provide care to all adults in the inpatient setting. Still, there are some opportunities for the acute care adult-gerontology NP to work in outpatient settings based on where the NP works.

Their education is centered on the adult and older adults--but the emphasis on the older adult makes them experts. Adult-gerontology NPs are needed in acute care because older adults may metabolize medications differently, have different health care goals, and require alterations in their treatment plans to meet their specific healthcare needs.

5. Pediatric Primary Care

Pediatric primary care is another in-demand NP specialty. Like in FNP, there is a shortage of physicians, especially in rural communities. Pediatric primary care NPs can help fill these shortages, especially in states that grant NPs full practice authority. Primary care pediatric NPs primarily work in clinic settings but may also deliver care via telehealth or even complete house calls.

The role of the pediatric primary care NP is to complete routine well-child checks/physicals, ensure children are current with vaccinations, and complete sports physicals. They manage acute and chronic health problems through assessment, diagnosis, and medicine management. Lastly, they will refer to other pediatric specialists as needed to ensure their patient receives the appropriate care.

6. Pulmonology Nurse Practitioner

Pulmonology is another nurse practitioner specialty in high demand, which is in correlation to the current Covid-19 pandemic. Pulmonology NPs can specialize in family medicine, adult-gerontology primary care, acute care, pediatric primary care, and acute care.

The setting where the pulmonology NP works is reflective of the specialty they pursued in school. For example, if you seek an acute care degree, you will most likely provide care needing pulmonology consults in the acute care setting. Family practice NPs most often work in the clinic setting, but if they are also practicing in a smaller community, they may also round on their patients while in-patient.

The pulmonology NP cares for patients with pulmonology problems. This may include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Covid-19, sleep apnea, asthma, lung cancer, and many other diseases. They provide care through assessment, diagnosis, and medicine management based on the patient's illness--and this treatment plan will look different based on the environment in which the NP works. If the NP works in an outpatient setting, the NP will also follow up with the patient based on their diagnosis.

7. Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric acute care nurse practitioners are in demand as well. The current physician shortage affects all aspects of healthcare, including the pediatric specialty. While there are not necessarily more pediatric hospitals being built now, the criticalness of the patients admitted is increasing. Therefore, the need for more practitioners in the inpatient setting is growing--to ensure all pediatric patients are cared for safely and appropriately.

The pediatric acute care NP can deliver care in all acute care settings. This includes the emergency department, inpatient floors, and the intensive care unit. It is important to note that there is a specific specialty for the NP to pursue if they wish to deliver care to the patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The acute care pediatric NP will provide assessment, diagnosis, medication management, and re-evaluation of the treatment plan to determine if any changes are needed. They will follow the patients closely while in the hospital and help coordinate discharge follow-up appointments as needed.

8. House Call Nurse Practitioner

House Call NPs are a growing trend—and I believe we will continue to see this trend grow over the next ten years. The option to receive house calls from a practitioner has been around for decades. The number of patients utilizing this service has increased in the last several years, partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Patients seek this service due to the convenience, especially if they are having difficulty getting out of the house for whatever reason: caring for a sick family member, orthopedic problem limiting their movement, time constraints, etc. Regardless of why the need for house call NPs has increased--house call NPs are in demand.

Most house call NPs specialize in family practice, pediatric primary care, and adult-gerontology primary care. The role of house call NPs is to deliver primary care. This can include annual physicals, Medicare wellness visits, routine follow-ups for chronic diagnoses, acute visits, wound checks, etc.

9. Cardiology Nurse Practitioner

Cardiology nurse practitioners are another specialty in demand. Cardiology nurse practitioners deliver cardiac care to patients in an outpatient setting such as a clinic or inpatient. Regardless of where they work, the cardiac NP evaluates the heart through assessment, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and initiating treatment plans based on these results.

The primary difference between inpatient and clinic-based cardiac NPS is that clinic-based NPS will follow the patient's long-term care in the outpatient setting. They may see them frequently or every 6-12 months based on their diagnosis. At each appointment, they will reassess the patient's cardiac status and determine if any changes to their treatment plan need to be made.

This specialty is in demand because more people live with heart conditions—this is due to the advancement of technology and medicine and the population living longer.

10. Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner

Aesthetic nurse practitioners are in demand. Over the last 5-10 years, the aesthetics industry has boomed, indicating a need for nurse practitioners to help meet this need. Aesthetic nurse practitioners are trained in providing aesthetic procedures such as Botox, lip fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal, and body sculpting. Almost all aesthetic NPs work in a clinic setting allowing flexibility to their schedule. They may work in medical spas or dermatology clinics—they may also work alongside plastic surgeons.

11. Pain-Management Nurse Practitioner

Pain management is another nurse practitioner specialty in high demand. More and more patients seek pain management treatment to help improve their quality of life. These treatments may include prescription medications, nerve stimulators, and non-pharmacological pain management techniques. Pain management NPs will work in clinic settings and may assist the physicians with surgical procedures that are typically done, outpatient.

Pain management is needed for all populations, including pediatric, adult, and gerontology—but I feel most pain management clinics are geared towards the adult and older adults. Therefore, if you are interested in pursuing a career as a pain management NP, I would consider becoming board certified in family practice or adult-gerontology with the knowledge that additional training will be needed to ensure competency in managing chronic pain.

12. Emergency Department/Urgent Care Nurse Practitioners

I combined emergency department and urgent care nurse practitioners—because they both take care of a patient, stabilize or treat the patient and then either admit the patient or direct them to follow up with their primary care provider.

The population within the United States is growing, and more of the population lives longer. That, coupled with the fact that there is a shortage of physicians, can cause more patients to seek care in urgent care or the emergency department. This may be due to people being sicker (living longer with multiple co-morbidities) or not being able to get into the primary care provider or specialists due to no openings—forcing patients to seek care for acute illnesses elsewhere. Whatever the reason, the need for more emergency department and urgent care NPs is evident.



My Final Thoughts


So, did I answer your question of which nurse practitioner specialties are in the highest demand? I hope the list of 12 nurse practitioner specialties in high demand in 2022 provided some insight regarding opportunities for nurse practitioners. Family practice and psychiatric nurse practitioners are two of the most in-demand specialties, but the other ten are also in need. And while I listed 12 specialties above, there are so many other opportunities for nurse practitioners to pursue if they desire to leave a positive impact on healthcare in today’s world.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


1. Which In-Demand Nurse Practitioner Specialty Is The Highest Paid?

Adult Cardiology NPs have the highest pay. They have a significant responsibility in diagnosing and managing people’s cardiac problems. They must carry a considerable amount of knowledge about a particular vital organ—and know how to diagnose and treat cardiac problems in all age groups.


2. Which In-Demand Nurse Practitioner Specialty Is The Lowest Paid?

Home Health NP is one of the lowest-paid specialties. This number is most likely determined by the number of patients you can see in a day and the concerns/problems you treat. Again, in 10 years, it will be interesting to see if this specialty is still one of the lowest-paid specialties for NPs.


3. Which In-Demand Nurse Practitioner Specialty Is The Most Stressful?

I do not feel there is an easy answer to this question. Every specialty will carry its stress and stressors. Often, the pressure from the job is caused more by the environment worked than the specialty the NP pursued.


4. Which In-Demand Nurse Practitioner Specialty Is The Most Popular?

The most popular NP specialty is a family practice. This is most likely due to the flexibility the job offers. If you pursue FNP in school—you can work in family medicine, urgent care, and most specialty clinics, including palliative care and hospice.


Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!