A Practical Guide to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner
As locum tenens jobs are more widely available, so too is the demand for advanced practitioners. And with the ongoing and worsening physician shortages in play, healthcare facilities need independent providers who can offer quality, reliable care. Increasingly, locum agencies report that gaps are being filled by Nurse Practitioners [NPs]. NPs are shown to alleviate system-wide burnout, lessening some of the strain on overworked physicians. In addition, their increased clinical skills and independent decision-making allow them to care for more complicated medical conditions and take on greater responsibility in patient care.
Whether you’re just beginning to entertain the idea of a career in healthcare or already have certification as a nurse, you’ll want to make sure you understand exactly what a Nurse Practitioner does and what qualifications you’ll need to become one.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse Practitioners assess, diagnose, and treat diseases and health problems. They manage patient care across the continuum of illness, providing preventive and promotive healthcare services, such as health maintenance, disease prevention, and health education. NP’s provide care to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. The varied nature of the job allows for specialization in an area of particular interest, such as gerontology, pediatrics, family medicine, or mental health. NP’s differ from other nurses as they have more autonomy; they are able to independently diagnose conditions and make treatment plans without the need to consult with a physician.
Why become a Nurse Practitioner?
With additional years of education and a specialized skill set, NPs have many more opportunities for higher wages than other nurses. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median salary at just shy of $124,000 annually. Nurse Practitioners also enjoy job security. Demand is high and projected to increase significantly over the next several years. As more health systems move away from traditional models, NPs will be essential in filling gaps in medical coverage and access to care.
Nurse Practitioners enjoy work flexibility and the option to work in a variety of settings, from rural to urban communities. The best locums tenens company knows locum tenens jobs – they will set an NP up with flexible hours, part-time or full-time work, as a solo practitioner or as part of a collaborative team of healthcare providers.
How do you qualify to be a Nurse Practitioner?
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner is both a rewarding and challenging journey. In addition to receiving the necessary advanced education, candidates must obtain the right qualifications and pursue the correct certifications.
First, as an aspiring NP, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution. This four-year program prepares you to take the National Council Licensure Examination [NCLEX-RN]. After passing the NCLEX-RN, you will qualify to apply with your state as a Registered Nurse, at which time you might begin gaining some practical experience. To continue, you must go on to pursue a master’s degree in nursing or a Doctorate of Nursing Practice [DNP]. (For RNs without a bachelor’s degree, there are alternative specialized programs to earn a master’s degree).
Once academic requirements are fulfilled, NPs must apply to obtain licensure from their respective state. Depending on the state, applicant requirements vary slightly and may include additional testing.
After completing the necessary educational and certification requirements, you’ll need to gain experience in the field through hands-on patient care – and benchmarks also vary by state. For example, the state of Florida requires a minimum of 540 hours of supervised clinical practice. During a residency program, you’ll have the opportunity to refine your skills while working with more experienced professionals. In addition, you’ll gain firsthand knowledge of the healthcare system and become better versed in medical ethics and the legal aspects of healthcare.
In summary, here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing [BSN] degree.
- Pass the National Council Licensure Examination.
- Obtain a current Registered Nurse license.
- Complete a Doctorate of Nursing Practice or specialized graduate Nurse Practitioner program.
- Obtain your NP certification and licensure.
- Complete a residency as required by your state.
In addition to the steps outlined above, working with a locum agency is an excellent way to boost your resume and career prospects. The best locums tenens company will specialize in helping NPs find the right locum tenens jobs and provide guidance when it comes to negotiating salary and benefits. They also help NPs keep up-to-date with the latest trends in healthcare and provide access to a network of potential employers.
Overall, becoming a Nurse Practitioner requires dedication and patience. With the right set of skills, qualifications, and experience, however, anyone who has the passion and drive can thrive in this profession. Good luck. MASC Medical looks forward to working with you as you develop your healthcare career.