What is the difference between a nurse and a nurse practitioner? A nurse practitioner (NP) has a more advanced degree than an RN or registered nurse and they have a broader spectrum of duties as part of their job. Nurse practitioners are expected to provide additional health care services and typically will specialize in things like family medicine or gerontology. The time it takes to become an RN will vary with the program that you take but becoming a nurse practitioner is going to take more education and a little bit longer, typically it could take around six years to achieve your credentials. Here is some more information on becoming a nurse practitioner.
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner
In order to become a nurse practitioner you must have first attained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and be a licensed registered nurse. You can become a registered nurse without achieving a Bachelor’s degree, you can also get both your degree and your license at the same time. You might want to check with your state to see the requirements as they can vary from state to state.
Once you have your Bachelor’s degree you can then go on to earn your Master of Science in Nursing and then pass your state licensing exam. It can take around two years to earn your Master’s degree and it will offer some hands on instruction. It is at this time you will choose your specialty, whether you want to practice family or some other type of medicine.
What does a Nurse Practitioner do?
A nurse practitioner will often have duties that are outside the realm that normal nurses do. Nurse practitioners can and will perform basic diagnostic tests, they can prescribe basic medications and help treat chronic illnesses that patients may suffer from. In the past these were tasks that were only performed by a doctor. In addition to these duties the nurse practitioner may also help patients with disease prevention, counseling on health issues and advocating on behalf of their patients.
The demand for nurse practitioners will increase dramatically over the next decade as the population increases. Baby boomers are going to be filling hospitals and senior care facilities and there aren’t enough nurses or nurse practitioners to handle the patient load. If you are currently an RN you might want to look into upgrading your credentials and moving into the field of nurse practitioner. It is a rewarding career.
2016 was a milestone year for baby boomer it was when those that were born in 1946 turned 70 years old. Every week since then there will be 10,000 boomers per week all hitting that age and that trend will continue until 2034. Not only that, the population of people older than 65 will outnumber that of children under 5 and that trend will continue as well. If you are in the healthcare industry, then then impact of these statistics is going to impact you for years to come. The rapidly aging population will require care and that is going to lead to a shortage of nursing staff.
The nursing industry has been aware of the changing demographics for a while now and have been trying to meet the demand by hospitals along with senior living facilities. They have expanded nursing programs and offered accelerated learning, but despite their best efforts there is still expected to be a shortage of Registered Nurses. How will this affect your state and which states will suffer the most under the shortage. Let’s look.
How Bad is the Shortage?
The AACN or American Association of Colleges of Nursing claims that because of the aging population the demand for nursing staff is expected to grow to 3.2 million jobs or by 16% by the year 2024. 2024 is only 6 years away and there will only be a handful of graduating classes in that time. The other issue is that within the currently working segment of RNs more than a million will hit retirement age very shortly. Not only is the nursing industry forced to meet the new demand but they must also replace the nurses that are leaving the profession.
Enrollment in Nursing School
While there has been an increase in enrollment in nursing schools across the country it only sits at 3.6 percent which won’t be enough to meet the expected demand over the next couple of years. Another issue that nursing schools are having to face is the lack of qualified educators, this has led to more than 60,000 applications to nursing school being declined because there aren’t enough staff to teach them.
Where will this Hurt Most?
By the year 2025 there will be several states that will be feeling the pain of the nursing shortage, those include North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Maryland. They won’t be the only ones, but for them it is going to hurt. Bear in mind there are specialty fields within the nursing profession that will feel the shortage even more acutely, psychiatric nurses, nurse practitioners and surgical nurses will be in short supply as well.
If we want to look after our aging population we are going to have to meet this demand, and do so quickly.