The Nurse Practitioner is one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this field will growth 31% over the next ten years, adding 64,000 new jobs by 2026. Nurses working in these fields earn, on average, more than $100,000 per year.
Nurse practitioners are licensed in the states where they practice. They are autonomous health providers that manage patient health conditions and seek to prevent disease. They are not required to be supervised by a medical doctor as is a physician assistant. They often specialize by patient population (see concentrations listed above) and may subspecialize in focus areas such as oncology, dermatology, or cardiovascular health.
Leaders in the nursing profession agree that the terminal degree for the Nurse Practitioner must eventually move to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), rather than the MSN. However, they have not set a date yet for this transition to take place. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing website reports that many universities are in the process of building DNP programs. And, from 2015 to 2016, the number of students enrolled in DNP programs increased from 21,995 to 25,289. During that same period, the number of DNP graduates increased from 4,100 to 4,855. However, until this transition is mandated, many bachelor’s trained RNs will prefer to complete the shorter, less expensive, MSN Nurse Practitioner program. The online part-time Nurse Practitioner programs are especially well-suited to meet the needs of busy nurses who aspire to improve their skills and achieve greater pay and career satisfaction.