Nurse practitioners play an essential role in the modern health care environment. These advanced nursing professionals, of whom there are 270,000 nationwide, handle more than a billion individual patient visits annually, per research from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners published in 2019. Equipped with robust medical education and real-world practice experience, NPs provide primary care and acute services to patients in virtually all demographics — adults, children and the elderly.
In addition to covering extensive clinical ground, NPs have wide operational footprints, making their presence known in numerous health care settings. For registered nurses intending to move forward in their respective careers by earning the online Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner degree, this is welcome news. Practice setting is typically a serious point of consideration for nursing professionals, most of whom want a certain amount of choice when selecting their work environments. Fortunately, there are an abundance of options in this ever-growing professional niche.
Here are four clinical settings NPs normally navigate:
Hospital inpatient and outpatient facilities are among the most common practice settings for modern NPs, according to data from the AANP released in 2019. Research from the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) published the same year supported this conclusion, revealing that more than three-quarters of U.S. hospitals staffed NPs in 2018.
The NPs navigating American hospitals perform numerous advanced nursing duties, such as diagnosing patients, ordering and reviewing medical tests, prescribing medication and educating patients on preventive health strategies. Most work in shifts similar to their RN colleagues, cycling among various departments depending on their specialties, per a SHM report released in 2018. In some states, high-level NPs with five or more years of experience can even have full-practice authority. This reality is borne out within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ regulations, which state that NPs can provide “physician services.” In short, these health care professionals have immense influence in American hospitals and take on duties once reserved for physicians and others.
Approximately 1.4 million Medicare recipients received hospice care in 2016, per research from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization published in 2018. These individuals, most of whom face terminal illnesses, require special care, including pain management and emotional support. NPs are among the medical professionals who provide such services. What does this work entail?
Long-term care planning is perhaps the most prominent duty entrusted to NPs functioning in this unique practice setting, as they must collaborate with patients and caregivers to develop palliative strategies that mitigate pain, discomfort or symptoms, according to an article published in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners in 2016. This is important, difficult work, but modern NPs can get the education and experience to do it.
Urgent care facilities
Community health care locations specializing in urgent care have grown in popularity in recent years due to the widespread demand for low-cost emergency medical care. There are around 8,700 of these facilities nationwide, per data from the Urgent Care Association released in 2018. They provide fairly robust services — patients can go in for anything from fractures to bronchitis — and maintain low wait times, as 94% of people sit in reception for fewer than 30 minutes, per the UCA.
NPs are ideal for this kind of practice setting. They have the breadth of clinical knowledge that is needed to diagnose, order tests for and treat the patients who come through the doors. This is why an estimated 32% of urgent care facilities employ NPs, according to data from the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine.
While NPs traditionally work in hospitals and primary care facilities, there’s also an opportunity to become a nurse educator in a higher education learning environment. For instance, nurse educators can teach nursing students in graduate school or assist in the design, implementation and revision of nursing curriculum for the program. NPs have an advantage in this case; there’s an opportunity to use skills, education and first-hand experience to enhance the quality of care delivery in the field.
Finding the right fit
Advanced practice nurses can find success in all these settings, serving patients from all walks of life while earning good pay, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which pegged the median NP salary at around $107,000 in 2019. Of course, long-term success in the field also hinges on education. Aspiring NPs must pinpoint credentials like the online MSN-FNP degree that allow them to acquire the skills and real-world experience they need to make an impact in any practice setting, from the ER to graduate schools.
The online MSN-FNP degree from Bradley University is among these career-building educational assets. Students navigate almost two dozen, 100% online courses meant to prepare them for work in the field. The degree program also features five preceptor-guided clinical practicums and closes with a research-based capstone, where rising NPs dissect modern health care issues.
The academic experience available in the online MSN-FNP program at Bradley University is a good option for individuals looking to pursue this fulfilling professional path.
Are you interested in enrolling in the online MSN-FNP program? Connect with Bradley University today.