While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) prepares nurses to be competitive in today's workforce, some RNs aspire to attain advanced education for in-demand roles. A Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) is a rewarding option for those who seek further career development opportunities. Nurse practitioners (NPs) have an expanded scope of practice and depth of knowledge, enabling them to manage patient care with greater independence.
Is There a Growing Demand for NPs?
With one-third of active physicians reaching retirement age over the next decade, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts physician shortages of up to 122,000 by 2032. As many as 45% of those openings will be in primary care, leaving significant shortfalls in patient access. Healthcare regulators and employers increasingly rely on certified NPs to bridge the gap.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for NPs will increase by 36% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in more than 56,000 new jobs nationwide. In the four states served by La Salle University's online MSN FNP program (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey), job growth forecasts through 2026 track with overall trends.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming an NP?
Becoming an NP has many benefits, from higher salary to more autonomy in making patient care decisions:
- Improved salary: In 2017, the average full-time NP base salary was $105,546, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). This is significantly more than the median RN salary of $71,730, as reported by the BLS.
- Career growth and specialization: Although NPs may choose from several specializations, many opt to pursue credentialing as an MSN FNP due to provider shortages. Base compensation for the role has jumped 18% in recent years, likely in response to rising demand.
- Greater autonomy: While nurses must operate under the direction of physicians, NPs may diagnose patients, develop and manage treatment plans, interpret labs and other test results, perform common procedures, and prescribe medications. State laws determine an NP's full scope of practice, however, so autonomous duties can vary.
- Bridging gaps in care: Becoming an NP often means working in medically underserved areas. A commitment to provide critical services and preventive care in an underserved environment, often for two or more years, may also satisfy eligibility requirements for student loan repayment programs. Delaware, for example, offers up to $60,000 in loan repayment for qualifying NPs who practice in the state.
The New Face of Primary Care
Accredited online MSN programs allow working nurses to earn an advanced degree without leaving their current jobs. Working RNs maintain their access to employer-funded tuition reimbursement while accumulating valuable experience and building professional connections for the next step in their career.
Nurse practitioners are recognized as an increasingly viable solution for the mounting primary care gap. With more expansive decision-making and treatment capabilities, NPs are in demand in both urban and rural healthcare settings, including physicians' offices, mobile clinics and community health centers. In as few as 20 months, BSN-prepared nurses can complete the necessary coursework to step into these emerging roles.
Learn more about La Salle University's Family Nurse Practitioner MSN Online.
Sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): Registered Nurses
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