If spending a lot of time on boring video calls over the pandemic has you questioning your career choices, don’t worry. You’re not alone. After all, you can listen to your colleagues checking the microphone—and saying, “Can everyone hear me?”—only so many times before it gets old.
The good news is that it’s never too late to consider a new (and such a rewarding!) career like that of a nurse practitioner.
If you love caring for others, have a passion for medicine and are thinking about getting into healthcare, keep reading to learn exactly what a nurse practitioner is and how to become one.
What is a nurse practitioner?
In short, in the world of healthcare, nurse practitioners are MVPs. They diagnose health conditions, prescribe meds and even provide treatment. Sounds kind of like a doctor, right? While they’re not quite that, they do act as a doctor’s would-be right hand. Nurse practitioners provide valuable support to physicians, and when a doctor isn’t around to supervise, nurse practitioners can call the shots regarding testing, diagnosing and deciding treatment plans.
What does a nurse practitioner do?
What does the day-to-day work of a nurse practitioner look like in-practitioner? (See what we did there?) Their work is a mixed bag—in the best of ways. It’s the kind of job that will keep you on your toes constantly, with a variety of tasks in many different settings and specialty areas, from the ER and primary care to women’s health and pediatrics.
As a nurse practitioner, no matter where you work, you’re likely to get a running start taking vitals, documenting symptoms, ordering labs and perhaps even taking on some procedural tasks.
In other words, if you’re trying to get in your 10,000 steps, this job will definitely take you to the finish line. And best of all, you’ll be helping the even-greater cause: taking care of others.
How to become a nurse practitioner
Here’s where things get somewhat tricky, but definitely not insurmountable. Nurse practitioners must first be registered nurses, which means you’ll need to get a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and your licensure. That just means that it’s time for you to hit the books if you think this career path is for you.
You’ll need to keep your nose down for some time, in fact, as the nurse practitioner education requirement is a Master’s or even a Doctoral degree. There’s also a standardized board certification exam that you’ll have to take and many hours of clinical training you’ll have to complete to help you prepare for the field. That may sound like a lot, but if you’ve read this far, chances are you’re the type of person who would go above and beyond to have a rewarding career and help others. And if such is the case, there’s no time like the present to jump in the ring.
What are the educational requirements for becoming a nurse practitioner?
Aside from the basic educational requirements mentioned above, nurse practitioners must complete several additional specifics that vary by state and focus area. Once you decide the kind of medical practice you’re interested in supporting, you can research the exact requirements by state and type of work.
You’ll also need certification from one of the following boards
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- National Certification Corporation
What qualities should a nurse practitioner have?
Now it’s time to do some soul searching. We know you’re more than capable of investing the time and energy in studying and qualifying for this career, so one of the final considerations is deciding whether this work feels like something you’d genuinely like—no, love—to do.
We’ll skip the personality test and get straight to some of the qualities recommended by experts in the industry.
Nurse practitioners are:
- Efficient with time management
Why are nurse practitioners important?
Over the last few years, the world has become very familiar with the term “essential workers.” And nurse practitioners are just that. Not only is their daily work important in the ways we’ve outlined above, but they are also integral to disease prevention.
Nurse practitioners do so much of the work that physicians do that their high level of influence may seem obvious, but what you may not have considered is the effect that nurse practitioners have on holistic health.
Since nurse practitioners work in diverse environments, from clinics to campuses, they gain an extensive amount of hands-on experience and influence in a wide range of communities and patient types. Remember, effective communication is an essential trait to have as a nurse practitioner. The variety of patient experiences you’ll encounter as an NP can immensely strengthen your communication skills. And that pays out over time in long-lasting, trusting relationships with those for whom you care.
Should I become a nurse practitioner?
If you’re still on the fence about this career path, consider the following few categories of perks. (Because who doesn’t love a good perk?)
A certain amount of emotional and laboral satisfaction comes with this line of work, with some of the top points being:
- You can choose from certain specializations (i.e., neonatal nurse practitioner, primary care nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner)
- You’ll have many of the responsibilities and experiences of a doctor (minus a few of those taxing years of med school)
- This field provides good job security
- You can travel and maybe even work abroad
- You’ll have the opportunity to mentor others
- You develop strong bonds with others through patient care
Doing what you love is one thing, but getting paid well for it certainly doesn’t hurt either. That said, there’s no shame in wondering what the salary of a nurse practitioner is. On average, nurse practitioners currently earn $111,680 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We’ll leave you with another question, one that also needn’t involve any shame. What do nurse practitioners wear? If you ask us, an ample supply of Jaanuu’s premium quality scrubs, plus our blazer-fit lab coat that’ll look so good, you may even forget to change out before that after-work date.
Remember, having the right clothing for the job is just as important as having clothing that keeps you feeling stylish and fresh. If you look good, you feel good, which makes it all the easier to pass those vibes onto others, especially your patients and team.
Whatever medical profession you choose, always practice what you preach: tender loving care!