Why U.S. News Chose Nurse Practitioners Over Physicians

I'm a sucker for a good 'Top 10' or 'Top 100' or 'Best of ...' list. That's why every year when U.S. News releases it's best jobs list, I indulge in scanning through the publication's picks for the top careers of the year. You can imagine my delight when I didn't have to scroll far to find nurse practitioner listed as number 2 on the recently released list of 2015's 100 best jobs. 

Nurse practitioners were second only to dentists in claiming the best job title for 2015. A number of other healthcare professions were named as good career picks for the year including physicians at number 4 on the list and physician assistants in the number 9 spot. While 'top whatever' lists are admittedly arbitrary, the naming of NPs high on the list, and especially their ranking in relation to physicians, is evidence of the changing face of healthcare. 

Here are a few reasons the nurse practitioner profession is increasingly recognized as a better option for many than a career as an MD. 

1. Momentum

Nurse practitioners are the golden children of the healthcare reform movement. We provide many of the same services as physicians at a lower cost. Nurse practitioners are more quickly educated than MDs so we can more quickly help to fill the primary care gap growing in our country. States are passing laws giving NPs more freedom in their practice and the media is increasingly recognizing the role nurse practitioners will play in the future of our country's healthcare system. The outlook for nurse practitioners is optimistic on all fronts. 

Physicians, however, have taken some heat lately. MD's are lamenting decreasing reimbursement rates from insurance companies and face stagnating salaries. The overall outlook for the physician career isn't as bright in the face of healthcare reform. 

2. Job Market

The job market looks good for both physicians and nurse practitioners as a whole, but NPs can expect to see more opportunities in coming years. According to U.S. News, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2022, the number of job openings for nurse practitioners will grow by 33.7 percent. That's more than double the national average. Job opportunities for MD's are expected to increase by 18 percent which is good, but not as noteworthy as the prospect for NPs. 

3. Ease of Entry Into the Profession 

It's not easy to become an MD. After getting a bachelor's degree you'll need to attend four years of medical school followed by a lengthy residency and maybe even an internship before beginning to work in your specialty of choice. Not to mention, you will likely graduate more than a hundred thousand dollars in debt. For aspiring NPs, there are better options. 

The nurse practitioner career is much easier to pursue as there are multiple entry points and options for your education. You can enroll in a part-time program, an online program, and often choose the pace of your education. Programs are, for the most part, relatively affordable in relation to your projected salary. Becoming a nurse practitioner is a much lower risk decision than choosing the educational path of a physician. 

Do you agree with the U.S. News decision to pick NPs over MD's?

 

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