Best Nurse Practitioner Specializations
Nurse practitioners are Advance Practice Registered Nurses that work directly with patients. They are consistently ranked one of the top five job roles in the country, in healthcare, and in STEM fields. Though NPs are ranked among the top five, it is important to remember that NPs vary drastically. Rather than a role in and of itself, NPs are more a type of APRN.
There are many, many different Nurse Practitioner specializations, and knowing which specialization you want to work towards is a critical step to moving forward with your career as a nurse. MSN degrees are not generic; they are specialized, so knowing the precise type of NP you want to become can make a huge difference for your future.
You can always recertify and earn a post-masters certificate that will qualify you for another area of medicine as an NP, but this takes extra time and money. Choose right the first time by understanding the role, what they do, and what you can do with that license.
To help you get started, here are the top NP specializations for 2021:
Family Nurse Practitioner
One of the most interesting roles for a nurse is the Family Nurse Practitioner. FNPs work most broadly across demographics and areas of medicine, which means that your day will be varied, and your role will impact patients the most. It is a more general type of specialization, however, so if you are particularly passionate about working with women or with a certain demographic like children, then this may not be the right role for you.
It is, however, a very popular option. This isn’t just because you’ll be working with a range of patients in a primary care setting, but also because you can operate your own clinic.
FNPs are the primary solution for the primary care physician shortage, but only 23 states and the District of Columbia offer full practice authority for nurse practitioners. This means that FNPs can manage a clinic, prescribe medication, and diagnose or send for diagnostic tests.
Not every state offers this authority, though they need to. Even amongst the states that do offer practice authority, there may be a grace period between earning your license and being able to operate a practice, so keep an eye out on the rules if this is your goal.
Travel Nurse Practitioner
Travel nurses work to fill staffing shortages at particular facilities. This can be on a daily basis to cover nurses who have called in sick, or it can be to cover something like maternity or paternity leave. This role can be particularly exciting if you have a license from within the eNLC, as it allows you to travel not just around your state but also across the country.
It is the best way to really see the country and enjoy the nomad lifestyle, all while working in a respectable, important job. Working as a travel NP isn’t just something that benefits you, after all. Most hospitals and other facilities will be short-staffed, meaning that if just one person goes home for any reason, then the hospital, and patients, will struggle with their loss.
By working as a travel nurse, you can better support these facilities that have a shortage on their hands.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
If you are greatly interested in mental health, then you can work towards becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Only 4.7% of NPs today currently work in this role, which means you can really stand out as an NP in this field.
These nurses work in private practices, hospitals, and in mental health facilities. On top of these standard healthcare work environments, these NPs also work in correctional systems, NGOs, clinics, and more.
They work to diagnose mental health conditions, develop treatment plans, and are also licensed in most states to prescribe medication.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
If you thrive in high-pressure situations and want to help save lives, then being an acute care NP is the way to go. They are also very rare in terms of NP popularity, with only 4.1% of NPs acting as Acute Care Nurse Practitioners.
These NPs work in pediatric care, geriatric acute care, and also in emergency rooms. They are at the forefront when something goes wrong and assist doctors very closely.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Female bodies are often underrepresented and misunderstood in medical settings. It is shocking to look at, but the fact is that most of the education in regards to female bodies is inadequate, which is why working as a women’s health NP can be such a rewarding role. By specializing in female patients, you can help provide expert treatment and care, particularly for those who may have felt overlooked or not heard.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Only 1.4% of NPs work in oncology, as it is a very difficult area of medicine to work in. Most patients who have cancer will either pass on or suffer greatly before they enter remission. You need to be exceptionally compassionate and also passionate about beating cancer.
Most oncology nurses will work within either the hospital or a specialty clinic. They work alongside oncology doctors and are there to help patients through the treatment process.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
There are also nurse midwives, though this is a slightly different role. Neonatal NPs care for newborns, both those born healthy and those who need to be placed in intensive care units. It can be a huge roller coaster to work as a neonatal NP, and you will need to be there for both the mother and the child. Your work can help save new lives, other’s lives, and more. Only 1% of nurses are neonatal NPs, but your work can be instrumental in bringing new life to this world.
There are so many great NP roles. Don’t be discouraged just because there are so few NPs in that role. It just means more opportunities for you to stand out and make your mark in the medical world.
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