Nurse practitioners are some of the highest-paid nurses. Their job is demanding and requires constant focus, in addition to delicate and important procedures performed on humans. To compensate for these high demands, salaries for nurse practitioners are generous. The current average salary of these professionals is $83,293 per year. Of this average, the 25th percentile earned $76,482, the median earned $83,293 and the 75th percentile earned $90,148. Beginning nurses who have recently graduated from school will likely be earning salaries within the range between the 25th percentile and the median average.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description And Outlook
Nurse practitioners educate patients on how to prevent illnesses and disease, focusing on wellness. These nurses also educate entire families about wellness and how to contribute to one another’s health. The idea of nurse practitioners is not as much to treat conditions, but to prevent them. By preventing disease and illness, less visits to the doctor are needed, less waiting rooms are crowded with conditions that could have been prevented and less prescriptions are used.
Some nurse practitioners also help conduct research related to their field. Nurse practitioners are also allowed to perform regular medical treatments, such as physicals, drawing blood, general health checkups, prostate exams and pap tests. Many patients choose to see a nurse practitioner instead of a physician due to the lower prices for office visits. Most free health care clinics employ nurse practitioners also. When a nurse practitioner encounters a condition that is out of the scope of care to treat, it is then required to refer the patient to a physician. Nurse practitioners must work closely with physicians and be able to properly communicate with them, maintaining a list of good referrals. The nurse practitioner may diagnose and treat chronic illnesses and infections. Medications must be prescribed when necessary.
Training And Education Requirements
In order to become a nurse practitioner, a student must complete a Bachelor’s Degree program in Nursing. With requirements in some states demanding higher degrees, it is recommended that students seek a Master’s in Nursing for best results. For full-time students, or those who are enrolled for 12 credit hours per semester, the Bachelor program should last about 4 years; the Master’s program lasts about 5 or 6 years. After completion of this program, the graduate will then need to take additional training for specialized practitioner care. These programs are found at community colleges and hospitals. The length of time required to finish depends on whether or not a student chooses to take summer classes, CLEP tests or supplemental programs. By using the CLEP exams, nursing students may be able to eliminate at least two semesters-worth of general studies.
Classes included in this degree program include several applied Science classes, Algebra, Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology, Sociology, Ethics, Management, Communication, English and many classes related to nursing. Nursing courses include such topics as Disease, Treatments, Dosage Calculations, Medical Terminology and several other classes relating to the health, treatment and prevention of illness for humans. Another equally important part of education is clinical rotations. All nursing students must complete these hands-on rotations, simply referred to as “clinicals.” Clinicals are usually performed in hospitals or convalescent homes. Nurse practitioners will, of course, have many more clinical rotations than an RN would. Nurses learn various medical procedures, how to identify symptoms and how to prescribe and compare medications. These professionals must be aware of drug interactions, allergies and many other important factors when prescribing medications. In addition to hands-on practical experience, several classes require hands-on labs. For example, Anatomy and Physiology classes require dissections of animal organs and corpses.
After a student has graduated from a Nursing program, an RN license must be obtained. This is accomplished by taking the NCLEX-RN state test. After passing this test, a nurse will be issued a license by mail, which must be renewed every few years for a small fee and proof of continuing education. Continuing education is defined as inservice hours, conferences or classes. Once the RN license is obtained, a nurse may then seek enrollment in a Nurse Practitioner program.
For nurse practitioners specifically, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is the most prestigious association. Established as the predominant practitioner association, this network has been in existence since 1985, providing a network for professional nurse practitioners to share information, learn about updates, new procedures and education. One of the most popular associations in the United States is The American Nurses Association, also called the ANA. By visiting their website, nurses may join by choosing a specific membership package, paying a fee and providing personal information. This association provides a network for individuals in this profession, students and those who are interested in the profession. Important information about care procedures, new medical discoveries and medications are sent to members frequently, keeping practitioners informed about all recent vital information. Each state also has its own nurses association. The fees required for membership of state associations are often much less than those required by the ANA. There are also many charitable associations and special interest associations that nurse practitioners may join.
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