In past posts on The College Network nursing blog, I have talked about nursing careers including Nurse Researcher and Nurse Anesthetist. Today, I want to introduce another great nursing career option: Nurse Practitioner. The modern healthcare landscape sees the importance of nurses rising, and Nurse Practitioners are some of the most visible agents of this change. Anyone who has taken advantage of the convenience and cost savings associated with visiting local clinics and saving a trip to the doctor's office in order to obtain antibiotics for an infection, for example, has likely encountered a Nurse Practitioner. Dorrie Fontaine, Dean of the UVA School of Nursing, wrote an article recently that sings the praises of Nurse Practitioners. Below is an excerpt from her article; read the full article here.
As gatekeepers of health, advanced practice nurses (those with at least a master’s or doctoral degree) are the perfect answer to our 21st century health care woes. With a well-documented drop in the numbers of American family practitioners – fewer than one in five physicians-in-training opt to be family practitioners – nurses stand ready to fill in the gap.
First, there’s the cost differential, critical to any discussion about health care delivery. In a physician practice, research has shown that nurse practitioners decrease the cost per patient visit by as much as a third. NPs typically earn less than physicians – about half of physicians’ $198,000 average annual salary – and are less costly to educate, as well.
Second, there is a boom in interest in nursing, which, if cultivated properly, will ultimately translate into an increase in access. People want health care that’s convenient, not cumbersome. We don’t have time to wait four weeks for an appointment, linger 45 minutes in the lobby, thumbing through tattered magazines, hoping for an old, outdated system to heal us. In a 24/7 world, health care must strive to become more immediate and accessible, or– like people scrolling through a web page, stepping into a store or flipping through a catalog– we’ll lose the opportunity to treat them.