Healthcare is adding more new jobs than any other major industry. The demand for family nurse practitioners (FNPs), for example, is booming. This can make landing top jobs a breeze. It also means that FNPs have some of the best job security around. Not having to worry about unemployment is just one of many advantages FNPs enjoy.
FNPs provide a level of care that requires a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). St. Thomas University (STU) offers an MSN – FNP program in a convenient online format — ideal for working nurses who want to advance their careers while they continue to gain valuable experience.
STU's MSN – FNP program prepares graduates for the national certification exam, a requirement in most states.
Why Is the Demand for FNPs So High?
Nurse Practitioner is one of the top 10 fastest-growing occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average job growth for all occupations is 7 percent. The job outlook for NPs jumps to 31 percent.
A growing population and an increase in the number of older adults is putting a serious strain on the nation's healthcare system. Research from the Health Resources & Services Administration shows that there are not enough physicians to meet the growing demand for primary care. Retirement is one reason. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that over 30 percent of all active physicians will be 65 or older in the next 10 years.
FNPs are being called on to help fill the growing gap. "National and Regional Projections of Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners: 2013-2025" by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that NPs can deliver 80 to 90 percent of the same care that primary care physicians provide. For example, they can conduct exams and order and interpret diagnostic tests such as X-rays. FNPs can also prescribe medications in all 50 states, although some states require physician oversight.
Not only can FNPs increase access to primary care, their services are also cost-effective. As the American Association of Nurse Practitioners points out, some of the savings comes from compensation differences. As of 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median yearly salary of at least $208,000 for physicians, compared with $113,930 for NPs.
Where Are FNPs Needed?
The shortage of primary care is seen in both rural and urban areas. However, it can be especially challenging in rural areas. The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health provides a snapshot of rural health needs:
- Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural and frontier areas.
- Americans who live in rural areas make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, but reside in 80 percent of the total U.S. land area.
- Only 9 percent of physicians practice in rural settings.
As of November 2018, there were 4,118 Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in rural and frontier areas, compared with 1,960 in non-rural areas. These are areas where the number of providers falls below federally defined standards.
FNPs are increasingly making a difference in these underserved communities. In fact, a Health Affairs study shows that the number of NPs in rural practices is growing. As of 2016, NPs represent more than 25 percent of rural practices, compared with 17.6 percent in 2008.
The nursing profession offers hundreds of opportunities for career growth. For nurses who pursue an advanced practice path, an FNP specialization is a top choice. With advanced clinical training and a nurse's compassionate approach to care, FNPs play a key role in closing the primary care gap. As the demand for FNPs continues to grow, this career offers a level of job security that is tough to beat.
Sources:USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism: Can Nurse Practitioners Solve the Country's Primary Care Shortage?
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