Top 10 Reasons You Should Become a Nurse Practitioner

If you've spent any time at all on the MidlevelU site, you are well aware that I'm excited about the career path I choose.  While my decision to become a nurse practitioner was initially fraught with doubt, I ultimately made the right choice for my future.  Looking back on my first five years of practice, there about a million reasons the NP career might be right for you as well.  

For the sake of time (and my sanity), I've narrowed down to just ten reasons I love my job.  So, here they are, the Top 10 Reasons You Should Become a Nurse Practitioner.

1. Flexibility

While I do enjoy my time at work, everyone needs a few days off on occasion (like every week...).  Thankfully, there are an endless number of scheduling options available to practicing nurse practitioners.  Some employers hire NPs to work three long shifts each week while others stick to a traditional 9 to 5 schedule.  Looking to work fewer hours?  Not to worry, PRN and part-time opportunities abound for the NP.

2. Multiple Practice Options

Not only is the NP career flexible regarding scheduling options, nurse practitioners enjoy the ability to work in nearly every medical specialty.  Whether you are looking to work in the ICU or in dermatology, hospitals and clinics of all kinds are looking to hire nurse practitioners. 

3. Opportunity for Change

Nurse practitioners have the ability to practice in nearly every area of medicine.  And, they don't have to stay in one field either.  The NP profession is versatile.  If you begin your career in one specialty, but decide you are ready for a change, you can easily switch your area of practice.  

4. Excellent Employment Outlook

CNN Money ranks nurse practitioner number 4 among the best jobs in America.  Factoring into this ranking is undoubtedly the 23% projected job growth for NPs.  The news source also awards an "A" grade to nurse practitioners for the category "future growth".  Nurse practitioners are in high demand and will be increasingly so as more and more Americans become insured under the Affordable Care Act.

5. Multiple Education Opportunities

One of the best things about the NP career is that you don't have to commit to your career path early on in your education.  Schools offer multiple options for students who do not have nursing experience or who cannot attend an NP program full-time.  There are part-time, full-time, on-campus, online, and accelerated options for your NP education.

6. Show Me the Money

The average salary for nurse practitioners is over $90,000 and is continuing to rise.  As a nurse practitioner, you probably won't become rich, but you will be able to fund a great lifestyle.

7. Branch Out to a Non-Clinical Career

Nurse practitioners are well educated giving them opportunities outside of the traditional NP role.  Should you decide that diagnosing and treating patients isn't for you or, if you simply need a change after a few years of practice, there's a lot you can do with your degree.  You can become a hospital administrator or teach as a local university, for example.  The opportunities are endless. 

8. Just Enough of a Challenge

No one wants a boring job.  Fortunately, the NP career constantly presents new challenges.  There's always more you can learn about medicine in order to improve your practice.  If you find yourself stagnant in your life as a nurse practitioner, it is certainly by choice. 

9. Progressive State Laws

17 states and counting allow nurse practitioners to practice independently.  States with more restrictive regulations surrounding NP practice are coming around.  For example, Ohio and Alabama recently passed laws increasing nurse practitioner's ability to prescribe.  As states loosen rules and regulations surrounding the NP scope of practice, nurse practitioners will be presented with even greater career opportunities. 

10. It's Awesome!

You can't beat the overall picture of the NP life.  An excellent salary, flexible schedule and endless opportunity all with a relatively quick education is a rare find.  

 

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Comments

Hi Ann, 

My advice would be to make the most of your clincals. Put yourself out there and learn as much as you can! Clinicals are real-life, hands on experience and will be the most valuable piece of your education. 

Erin Tolbert

Hi! I am getting ready to start nursing school to become and RN. I am very excited and nervous at the same time. Do you have any advice that i can carry with me throughout my experience?
.

Ann

Hi Ambriel, 

Happy to clarify!

It certainly is possible to make your money grow. You should of course, invest wisely and save. As a nurse practitioner you will do very well and make a good living. For most NPs, however, there is a point at which your salary won't grow much with experience. Many medical practices lack opportunity for upward mobility. This is not necessarily a downside as the nature of being a nurse practitioner is patient care - your job description remains stable. The same could be said for physicians as well. 

There are ways to overcome this if you are ultra-motivated. You could, for example, open your own practice or work your way up in an administrative capacity. 

Did I do an OK job of explaining that?

Erin Tolbert

Erin im 17 yrs old and want to go into nursing. The school I will attend let's me become an RN in 2 yrs verses 4 and to become a nurse practioner I would only have to complete 2 more yrs of school to receive both my bachelor's and master's. But besides that,lol, what do you mean that you can't get rich off of being a nurse practitioner? Is it impossible to make your money grow??

~Ambriel McPherson

Ambriel Mc

Hi Pam,

That's not unusual at all!  Personally, I am an FNP and I work in the emergency department.  Some of my former classmates now work in home health, dermatology, ENT, cardiology, oncology... the possibilities are endless.  Primary care is the foundation for all of these specialties so focus on learning as much as you can in your FNP program and you can choose a more specific interest later. 

Erin Tolbert

Hi! I'm applying for FNP next fall (2014). How unusual is it that I don't really know what kind of primary care/specialty I want to do with my FNP? I know that I will be exposed to many things while in school. I feel like I will just "know" when the time comes.
Thanks,
Pam

Pam Earls