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Nurse Practitioners: the Solution for a Growing Healthcare Need

Career News July 16, 2014

There are more patients than ever entering the healthcare system that will require their primary care needs be met by qualified medical personnel. However, this influx of patients is not being matched with an equal proportion of primary care doctors.

While the Affordable Care Act has been responsible for much of the increased patient load, healthcare reform is not the main factor. Medical doctor Danielle Ofri, in an article for the New York Times, notes that while more students are entering the medical field, these future doctors are choosing to specialize and sub-specialize rather than to obtain a medical degree in one of the primary care fields. Enter the nurse practitioner.

Filling the Primary Care Gap

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced care registered nurses that can perform nearly all of the duties of a primary care physician. Services frequently provided by an NP include:

•Diagnosing and treating both acute and chronic diseases and conditions
•Ordering and interpreting results of diagnostic testing
•Prescribing medications
•Ordering physical therapy
•Educating and counseling patients for better health

While the NP may choose to specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology or one of many others, according to an infographic by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), more than 80 percent of NPs are choosing primary care as their field of choice.

Creating Healthier Patients

In addition to providing the same type of care provided by a traditional primary care physician, a registered nurse can also provide counseling and preventive services. NPs teach patients about making positive changes and healthier lifestyle choices for improved overall health rather than just when they are experiencing symptoms of illness. The AANP notes that patients who receive services from an NP, including education and prevention services, will often require less emergency care and have reduced medication costs.

Salary and Job Outlook

Many states in the U.S. allow a nurse practitioner to practice medicine independently while others require that an NP work with a physician to practice. Barton Associates provides an interactive chart that shows the independent versus collaborative requirements for each state.

As advanced-practice registered nurses, NPs can make a yearly income in the six figures in some areas. According to information provided by U.S. News and World Report, the average median income for an NP is around $90,000 a year with a job growth rate of nearly 34 percent through the year 2022.

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  • GCU's bachelor's and master's programs prepare students to fill roles in direct care, management, health education and administrative disciplines.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at GCU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Develop with hands-on practice, online and lab simulations and in depth peer discussions exploring best practices.
Good for Working Adults
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  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
  • Kaplan University Online Degree Programs
  • Attend college on your terms. Kaplan University offers fully online degree programs that fit any schedule.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
  • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
  • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
  • *BestColleges.com Gold Medal of Distinction
  • **excludes licensure, certification, and some doctoral programs
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
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  • Get Matched to Psychology, Counseling, Human Services, Organizational, and Clinical Psychology Degree Programs and MORE.
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