Are you an RN holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing weighing the pros and cons of going that extra mile to become a Family Nurse Practitioner? Perhaps you work long hours and aren’t sure if now is the right time to commit to something that may necessitate making radical changes in your lifestyle. Graduate school is, after all, a major commitment.
Or maybe you aren’t sure if there is a real need for FNPs at this time. If this is something that you’ve been thinking about, then perhaps you really are ready to take that step forward in your career. What just might help you make that decision once and for all would be a look at some good reasons why this is a good career choice, especially now at this point in time.
1. One of the Most In-Demand Careers in Healthcare
For many years, it was predicted that nurse practitioners would be in greater demand. However, due to recent events such as the SARS-CoV-19 pandemic, the timetable has moved up by several years. With so many doctors opting to retire earlier than planned and fewer people entering med school, the demand for NPs just got that much larger.
Having said that, the one specialty within the scope of nurse practitioners in highest demand would be that of a Family Nurse Practitioner, FNP. As the shortage of doctors grows, there will be an ever-increasing need for providers to handle patients left without a primary care provider. FNPs can take on many of the responsibilities of MDs and Dos whether they choose to work under the guidance of a doctor or with full autonomy.
2. Higher Levels of Autonomy
This brings to mind another reason why you might want to consider advancing your degree from a BSN to an MSN-FNP graduate degree. Many nurses find that over time they have become astute in making accurate diagnoses because they spend more time with patients than doctors do. Although their diagnosis is only from the sidelines, they take great pleasure in predicting what the doctor will surmise.
If you are looking to step away from the sidelines into a position holding greater autonomy, this would be a step in the right direction. While there are some states that have regulated in favor of Full Practice (Autonomy), other states have what is called Restricted Practice. Then there are states falling under a classification of Reduced Practice. Each state has set the bar for the level of autonomy granted to FNPs, but one thing is clear, Nurse Practitioners have far greater autonomy than RNs, and that is something to look forward to.
One thing to be aware of at this point is that the level of autonomy you desire may have an impact on where you practice once you get that degree and pass state examinations. Many FNPs have no problem relocating to another state if that state grants greater autonomy. Others may choose to continue working on a new level in a state where they have been working as an RN. It all depends on the level of autonomy you are most comfortable pursuing. You can get the most current state-to-state regulations on the American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ website.
3. Earning Potential
Along with that greater level of autonomy comes a greater potential to earn a higher salary. Even those FNPs in Restricted or Reduced Practice states have the ability to significantly increase their earnings. However, there is one thing to be aware of in terms of earning potential. Although there is a national economy, each state has a separate economy, and wages vary from state to state. To get a better understanding of salaries in each state across the nation, you may want to find the most recent statistics on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. These statistics are updated annually, so it is easier to decide where you want to live if earning potential will determine where and how you practice.
If you intend to work as a Full Practice Family Nurse Practitioner, then your annual earnings are really up to you. Also, some Full Practice FNPs can accept Medicaid or Medicare patients, which will almost immediately increase their earning potential. However, every insurance provider, including Medicare and Medicaid, has conditions that must be met prior to contracting with a provider. If your autonomous practice meets the requirements of each insurance provider, then you can earn significantly more than would an FNP unable to meet those stipulations.
4. Job Availability Throughout the U.S.
It is clear that there is a high demand for nurse practitioners in literally every state so finding a job in the state in which you intend to practice won’t be a problem. Some states with greater populations will obviously have a greater need for nurse practitioners than states that are sparsely populated. That is the rule of thumb but may not be the case all of the time.
For example, rural areas in the Western states have a harder time attracting providers than highly populated states in the East. This is why there are a number of recruitment incentive programs geared toward attracting doctors to rural areas. Some offer financial assistance to med students if the contract to practice for a prespecified time is in a given location. This assistance often comes in the form of student loan forgiveness, but there are other incentives as well. Needless to say, with such a shortage of providers across the nation, job availability is high everywhere.
5. Job Security
As for a career with a future, FNPs are among those with the most amount of job security due to the critical shortage of providers leading to a huge demand that won’t be met at any time in the near future. Besides the pandemic that has taken such a large toll on healthcare workers across the board, the population continues to expand. It may just be that we won’t see that shortage being met in our lifetime or in that of the next generation as well.
This all boils down to the fact that job security is definitely driven by supply and demand. Where the demand is high and the supply of providers limited, you can be certain there is job security in those areas. It goes without saying that literally every state is forecast to offer job security for Family Nurse Practitioners because of this huge demand.
Job security is often equated with demand. Beyond that, annual employee reviews may impact job security as well in those states where autonomy is restricted. You may need to work for a hospital, clinic or doctor, which would entail being reviewed annually. Even in times of high demand, which is always in this case, employees will be let go if they don’t pass annual reviews. Some things can be ignored but poor performance is something that will definitely impact your future with an employer. However, along with the nature of what you do, it is difficult to be terminated unless you have made some grievous errors.
6. Personally Rewarding
When it comes to practicing as an FNP, there are few careers in the world that can be more rewarding. It’s amazing to follow a patient’s progress over time knowing that you were instrumental in helping that patient heal or live a better quality of life. In fact, there are patients that were laying on death’s door you were able to accurately diagnose and then prescribe an effective treatment plan for. How rewarding is that?
Then there is that personal satisfaction that goes along with having worked hard for, and achieved, a well-respected profession. You will find that just that one jump in your career can have a significant impact on how you are respected within the community. That’s one of the leading reasons why so many RNs pursue a career as an FNP. While nurses do much of the assessments in patient care, often having major input into treatment plans, it’s the doctor who gets all the recognition. While this isn’t a primary motivation for advancing in healthcare, it’s nice to know that your efforts are appreciated. To many, that sense of being appreciated is the most personally rewarding aspect of working with patients as their provider, their Family Nurse Practitioner.
7. A Well-Respected Profession
Whether or not you place any emphasis on feeling that personal sense of reward for your accomplishments as a provider doesn’t negate the fact that Nurse Practitioners are in a highly respected position. For years, parents were proud of their children who became lawyers or doctors, and nurse practitioners are right up on a par with them.
Something about being respected makes it easier to go in day after day and being greeted by emergency after emergency becomes that much easier to handle when you know that your treatment plan and advice will be followed. You hold a position carrying enough respect that your voice will be heard. As a nurse, you may have found times when a patient let what you advised them to do go in and out of their ears. However, as soon as the doctor walked into the room, they hung on to every word he or she had to say. Why do you think that is? It’s obviously because doctors are well respected and now nurse practitioners are gaining the same amount of respect.
From Why to Can I
Now that you have had a closer look at why you might want to get that coveted degree that will give you the foundation for being a family nurse practitioner, it’s time to look at if you can reach that goal. You obviously know you have the intelligence and background in healthcare to accomplish your goals, but that isn’t the only reason you may be asking yourself if you really can do it. Sometimes there are other extenuating circumstances that may have you pondering the wisdom of making a step in that direction at this time.
Sometimes you work a full week and even have overtime hours that put a drain on your energy levels. Other times you have family matters to be concerned with and yet there can also be situations in which there isn’t a university close enough to attend. If you find that any of these situations are holding you back from advancing in your career, you might want to know that there are ways to work around each and every one of those self-imposed objections.
Overcoming Those Objections Opens the Door to Success
You have gone through the reasons why you might want to go from a BSN to RN-FNP degree but are hesitant due to perceived obstacles in your way. These obstacles can be seen as objections that you must overcome before making a commitment. Actually, each of these objections has a common solution.
If you are concerned with how you will find the time to attend graduate courses due to holding down a full-time job, often with overtime hours thrown into the mix, you just can’t see yourself carrying a full load at school. The same thing holds true when you are trying to raise a family and you not only have a job but now you are thinking of what it will mean to take time away from your family to attend classes. Then there is the concern that you may have to relocate because there is no college offering that program within driving distance from where you live and work.
All of these obstacles can be overcome because of the availability of distance learning. Not only can you choose the university offering online graduate degrees, but you can also choose how many courses you can handle at any given time. You will be studying from home and so you will not necessarily be neglecting your family duties. You can work around times when you need to be cooking, cleaning, making lunches, or putting children to bed, for example, and you can do all your coursework from the comfort of your own home. In the end, there are few obstacles you cannot overcome if you truly want to make a commitment.