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Massachusetts: Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Career News September 21, 2013

One of the fastest growing medical professions in the United States–and in Massachusetts–is that of a nurse practitioner. This career combines the strengths of both the nursing and the medical professions.

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse, who has completed advanced training and additional certification. In addition, NP’s have the ability to perform many of the duties and tasks, traditionally assigned only to physicians, including prescribing medications.

Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant: What’s the Difference

To a layman, the jobs of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician’s assistants (PAs) may seem very close. In fact, they do perform many of the same functions. There is, however, one major difference between the two professions.

A nurse practitioner is, first and foremost, a nurse. He or she must be a registered nurse in most states, including Massachusetts, and have clinical experience as a nurse to be certified as a nurse practitioner. In fact, the average NP brings ten years’ nursing experience to his or her career as an NP. Conversely, most PAs begin their career as a physician’s assistant directly out of school.

Massachusetts: Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Nurse practitioners are an increasingly vital part of the Massachusetts health care system. If you are considering pursuing a career as an NP in the Bay State, here is a little of what you need to know:

Number of NPs in Massachusetts: 6,806

NPs per 100,000 populations: 102

Who governs/grants licenses to NPs: The Massachusetts Board of Medicine and the Massachusetts Board of Medicine regulate and license nurse practitioners in the state of Massachusetts.

Do you need to be an RN? Yes

Do you need a Master of Science in Nursing to become a NP?

No, a Master of Science Nursing degree or similar is not required in Massachusetts.

Are there other requirements?

Yes. In addition to a current nursing license, a Massachusetts nurse practitioner must also have advanced nursing and clinical knowledge acquired through an approved training program and become board certified in his or her practice area.

How much can a Nurse Practitioner earn in Massachusetts?

Nurse practitioners in Massachusetts make an average salary of $107,000. (Salaries vary based on employment setting, geographic location, educational background and years of experience.)

Do NPs need a physician’s supervision for diagnosis and treatment? No

Do NPs need a physician’s supervision to prescribe medication? Yes

Is there some drug classifications NPs cannot prescribed? If so, provide details:

There are some limitations to the supply and refill authority for nurse practitioners in prescribing Schedule II-V drugs.

Massachusetts: Nurse Practitioner Outlook

According to Community Catalyst, an organization that advocates health care reform, Massachusetts misses the mark in providing affordable, quality health care. They claim one reason for this is the state’s failure to make full use of nurse practitioners. Even though Massachusetts has more NPs per capita than many other states in the Northeast and Midwestern United States, there is still much room to grow.

What is the outlook for nurse practitioners in Massachusetts? This is a growing profession, as are all nursing jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that all nursing jobs will increase by approximately 26 percent over the next eight years.

With the aging US population and the increasing acceptance of NPs by patients and the medical community, the job prospects for emerging NPs are very good.

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