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Pros and Cons of Expanding Roles for Nurse Practitioners

Career News August 14, 2013

In today’s medical marketplace, the roles of nurses and nurse practitioners have become more essential than ever. More often than not, nurse practitioners are a vital part of the medical diagnosis and treatment team, and serve roles on par with their medical doctor counterparts. According to an article published by American Medical News, the number of nurse practitioners will nearly double by the year 2025. This growth will be seen primarily in the primary care sector of medicine.

Gone are the days when nurses served under the direct jurisdiction of medical doctors. Nursing is now one of the most in-demand professions in the country, which makes it a buyers’ market, so to speak, for those looking to join the ranks of the medical profession.

The role of nurse practitioners is continually expanding due to the nation’s current shortage of physicians. It has become imperative for many medical clinics to find ways to effectively and consistently use the knowledge and skills of everyone involved in patient care. As the population ages, the need for proficient medical professionals has become more critical than ever before. Nurse practitioners serve a vital role since their training and expertise makes them just as proficient at many tasks as medical doctors. The need for a collaborative and team-based approach to patient care is particularly vital in today’s technology-driven medical sector – especially since health care costs are on the rise and insurance agencies are providing less coverage for patient care.

The time that it takes for a nurse practitioner to receive secondary training and education is far less than that required for a medical degree, making it a more feasible option for many who are looking into healthcare as a profession. Individuals who earn nursing degrees also have a decreased gap between school and job placement. In fact, most nursing students are able to secure employment before they finish their degree, making it a far more viable option than medical school. The number of nurse practitioner jobs has increased over the last three years, and it continues to be in high demand. Those looking to enter the medical field as a nurse practitioner should expect – for better or worse – an expanded role on par with that of medical doctors.

Listed below are a few pros and cons of the increased visibility and expanded roles of the 21st century nurse practitioner.

Pros of the Expanded Roles of Nurse Practitioners

•One of the biggest pros of the expanded role of today’s nurse practitioner is the salary. According to American Medical News, in 2011, the average median salary of a nurse practitioner had risen to $90,583. This salary makes it clear that becoming a nurse is a solid career choice.

•Along with a solid salary, nurse practitioners can expect to receive the same professional recognition and hierarchy as their MD counterparts, as well as perform many of the same tasks. Nurse practitioners are able to serve on boards, sit in department chairs, become provosts and teach.

•The rewards of working in the medical field are unmatched. Those interested in giving themselves and truly helping others can find a rich and rewarding career as a nurse practitioner. Regardless of whether one intends to work in clinical care or teach and instruction, becoming a nurse practitioner can provide intangible benefits that few careers can match.

Cons of the Expanded Roles of Nurse Practitioners

•One of the biggest downsides to the expanded roles of nurse practitioners is the long, arduous hours and time spent away from family. This leaves them vulnerable to the same burnout and fatigue that physicians can endure.

•The widespread shortage of both doctors and nurses means that today’s nurse practitioners are expected to carry a higher patient load and bear more burdens on a daily basis. This can lead to frustration and increased anxiety and stress.

•Even though nurse practitioners are expected to and often do provide the same services and care as doctors, they are paid less money. Some feel that this discrepancy makes the field of nursing less lucrative.

As with any career, there are pros and cons to becoming a nurse practitioner. Those considering this field should do well, if they do extensive research and perhaps shadow a current nurse practitioner. This allows them to make an informed decision about their career path.

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