Nurse Practitioner

The Importance of Nurses

Nursing is an important facet of the healthcare profession and one that focuses upon the well-being and care of families, individuals, and whole communities in order for them to be able to live a full and good quality of life from birth to death. Of course, as with all branches of healthcare, registered nurses can specialize in a specific area of medicine, or they can be more general and work in a variety of branches, completing certification and training as they go along. According to Wikipedia, nursing theory and process is the method used to assess and diagnose needs, plan outcomes and interventions, implement intervention, and evaluate the outcomes of the care provided. One thing we know for sure, when we think about nurses,  is that they are caring individuals that people look to for assistance and help and are people who will advocate for the sick and give empathy to those who need it.

The Beginning of Nurse-Practitioners

In the mid-1960s, when the numbers of physicians in the US was depleted, the role of the nurse-practitioner had its genesis. Nurse-practitioners (NPs) are able, through advanced training and education in nurse-practitioner schools and universities, to provide primary and acute care, and are qualified to meet the healthcare needs of most patients. They are well educated, most to the graduate-level that leads to a Master's degree. They are an integral part of the healthcare team and they also work independently. Nurse practitioners are in high demand, and nurse-practitioner jobs and positions are a growing area in the healthcare professions.  They can be found in oncology or delivering a baby.

Who They Are, What They Do

Nurse-practitioners are able to handle close to 80 percent of primary and preventive care and with the growing emphasis on prevention and public health, there are great opportunities for nurse-practitioners. From hospitals and urgent-care centers to private practice, nurse-practitioners can find opportunities to use their training for the betterment of society. Nurse practitioners are also referred to as Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) and they are all registered nurses with additional education and training. In order to be licensed, they must hold national certification in an area of specialty, such as women's health, pediatrics, adult care, or midwifery.

The Money Is Great - So Is The Responsibility

CNN, in their list of Best Jobs in America in 2009, ranked Nurse-Practitioner as Number 4 of 50 Top Ranked Jobs. Along with the status comes a great salary, however, along with all of the good stuff comes some challenges, especially when it comes to insurance. Also, the requirements to become a nurse-practitioner are increasing with more educational demands than before. About three more years of study are required for an NP than was required just a few years ago. Having said all of that, the nurse-practitioner salary in 2007 was in excess of $87,000 per year. It has gone up since then and nurse-practitioners earn income, in some cases, of close to $100,000 per year. While it sounds like a cushy job, the work and responsibilities are enormous and not to be downplayed.

Wages for Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives

A nurse-practitioner and a midwife, although different, require similar education and the pay for a midwife is similar to nurse practitioner wages. They both require a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree, Registered Nursing degree and two years of registered nursing experience to qualify to apply to the Midwifery program. An interesting statistic shows that in 2006, there were 342 master's and post-master's programs offered for nurse practitioners and only 39 programs for nurse-midwives.

A certified nurse-midwife must graduate from an accredited education program and pass a certification exam. The standards of practice are set by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and by state licensing organizations.

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