Discover NP Careers

Discover NP Careers

Nurse practitioners entered the medical space at the height of the Vietnam War. President Johnson approved the Medicare Act of 1965, which expanded to cover low-income individuals and increased the need for medical professionals.

In the same year, the American Nursing Association published a paper that encouraged the pursuit of nursing in higher education. Since then, the number of nurse practitioners (NPs) and programs in the United States has more than quadrupled.

A variety of nurse practitioner careers stem from earning a nursing degree, including NP jobs from education to patient care. Keep reading for a detailed look at nurse practitioner careers.

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APRNs | NPs | Other Nurse Jobs | FAQs

What Is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse?

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) covers several areas of nursing. An APRN earns a master’s degree in nursing to pursue specialization as a nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), clinical nurse specialist (CNA), or certified nurse-midwife (CNM).

Nurse practitioners jobs represent the most common of these specialties. NPs work in hospitals, ambulatory care, long-term care facilities, or a variety of other healthcare settings. CRNAs, CNAs, and CNMs also fall within the APRN category, but offer slightly different career trajectories than NPs.

Certified Nurse-Midwife

Certified nurse-midwives specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They attend births, conduct annual exams, provide counsel to their patients, and write prescriptions. The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) represents most CNMs. ACNM states that 76% of certified nurse-midwives perform duties related to reproductive health while 49% handle primary healthcare.

Learn More About CNM Careers

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Certified registered nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia to patients preparing to undergo an operation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 45% job growth rate between 2019 and 2029 for this nurse practitioner job. In 2019, the BLS reported 263,400 CRNA jobs. Anyone seeking a career as a CRNA needs a master’s degree, but many employers want candidates to earn their doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. Candidates must also earn national certification in their field.

Learn More About CRNA Careers

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Based in local clinics or doctors’ offices, clinical nurse specialists often select an area of expertise to focus their efforts. This nurse practitioner job might specialize in diabetes, rehabilitation, or a certain patient population like children or women. CNSs carry responsibility for their patients’ diagnosis and treatment.

Learn More About CNS Careers

Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Broadly speaking, nurse practitioners diagnose patients, interpret medical tests, prescribe medications, and support their patients through medical procedures. They might work in a private practice, long-term care facilities, or ambulatory clinics. NPs must earn their master’s degree followed by an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) state certification.

There are several medical subfields within the greater nurse practitioner career field. NPs can specialize in anything from family care to holistic health. An NP specialty is defined based on the patient’s age, job location, and field of study. Take a closer look at the jobs available to nurse practitioners.

What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

Acute Care NP

Acute care NPs often work in urgent care clinics, birthing centers, rehabilitation facilities, and hospitals. They treat illnesses, accidents, and other medical emergencies that come into their workplace. NPs in this specialty generally focus on pediatric or adult care. They must at least earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree and are encouraged to earn a certificate in their area of expertise.

Learn More About ACNP Careers

Adult-Gerontology NP

Adult-gerontology NP jobs entail working across a broad population of patients. Many nurse practitioners choose to focus on a specialty within this discipline, such as diabetes, health policy, palliative care, or HIV/AIDS treatment. NPs earn one of two credentials: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP), focusing on treating illness, or Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-PCNP), focusing on illness prevention.

Learn More About AGNP Careers

Family NP

A family NP (FNP) specializes in family practice. They can work with patients of all ages and often support their patients in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. FNPs often focus their efforts on particular populations or communities. They treat minor illnesses and monitor general wellness. FNP jobs require master’s degrees, as well as a certification in family practice.

Learn More About FNP Careers

Neonatal NP

A newborn in need of emergency medical care requires a neonatal NP. These nurses guide parents through neonatal care and monitor newborns with severe health conditions. Each of the four levels of neonatal NP work entails more critical responsibility than the last. These NPs must gain clinical experience before pursuing a master’s degree.

Learn More About NNP Careers

Pediatric NP

Pediatric nurses work with kids from birth to approximately age 18. Nurse practitioner jobs in this sector treat common illnesses, give childhood immunizations, and educate family members on child healthcare. Pediatric NPs must earn their master’s degree followed by certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCP).

Learn More About PNP Careers

Psychiatric-Mental Health NP

Psychiatric-mental health NPs treat their patients for psychiatric disorders and illnesses. Nurse practitioner jobs in this field might include treating mood disorders, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. NP jobs in psychiatric and mental health exist within private practices, correctional facilities, and mental health facilities. These nurses must earn a master’s degree in nursing or a doctoral degree in nursing practice.

Learn More About PMHNP Careers

Women’s Health NP

A women’s health NP supports a woman’s health through all stages of her life. They usually focus on gynecology or birth, but can also choose to address a variety of health concerns related to women’s health. Women’s health NPs must enroll in graduate programs for their specialty.

Learn More About WHNP Careers

Other Nursing Careers

Not all nursing careers involve working hands-on with patients. Several career trajectories rely on managerial skill sets. People who hold managerial nurse practitioner jobs are experts in their fields of study and crucial members of all medical centers. The following list features options for those who want to work in nursing, but are less interested in hands-on work.

Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators take the same educational route as nurse practitioners, but instead choose to focus on the managerial daily tasks of hospitals or clinics. This includes personnel management, patient care, and maintaining regulatory policies. They wear several hats, focusing on everything from human resources to finance.

Learn More About Nurse Administrator Careers

Nurse Educator

A nurse educator has a combination of clinical experience and academic expertise. These nurses teach in universities, technical schools, and hospital-based nursing programs. They might also serve as independent contractors or consultants in nurse education. Nurse educators can choose from over 100 different specializations.

Learn More About Nurse Educator Careers

Nurse Executive

Nurse executives comprise senior leadership of a medical organization and handle the administrative side of healthcare. Nurse practitioner jobs at this level involve managing finances, staffing, and solving issues to ensure a smooth delivery of healthcare services to the community. Nurse executives must possess several years of clinical experience and a master’s degree.

Learn More About Nurse Executive Careers

Nurse Leader

Nurse leaders manage a team of nurses to provide quality care to their patients. They aim to improve clinic efficiencies and patient outcome rates, among other behind-the-scenes tasks. Nurses in these roles take a similar educational route as APRNs, but their requirements are less clinical. Nurse leaders must acquire a master’s in nursing with a concentration in leadership and management. Employers may also prefer applicants who complete post-graduate certifications.

Learn More About CNL Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can you do with a nurse practitioner degree?

    Nurse practitioner careers cover anything from management to treating specific illnesses. NPs can concentrate in a specific area of interest or work in a general practice.

  • What are the best NP jobs?

    The perfect NP job depends on each individual’s interests, career goals, and skillset.

  • What are the highest-paying nurse practitioner positions?

    The highest-paying position for a nurse practitioner is a nurse anesthetist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary for nurse anesthetists at $183,580 as of May 2020.

  • Is a nurse practitioner a good career?

    NPs frequently rank as one of the top occupations in the U.S. based on their median salary, work-life balance, growth expectations, job prospects, and stress levels.

  • How do you find a nurse practitioner job?

    Prospective NPs should make sure their resumes remain updated for their nurse practitioner job search. They should also explore connections made through professional organizations and previous work experience.


Featured Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

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