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Nurse Practitioner: The Fastest Growing Occupation in the U.S.

When an occupation is on the rise, it’s not always on solid ground. Advancements in technology often disrupt industries and their associated job positions, such as travel agents and human grocery store cashiers. One industry in which there will always be a demand for workers is healthcare — with some careers experiencing more rapid growth than others.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a nurse practitioner (NP) career, there’s no better time to enter the profession or propel your career. NPs are enjoying unprecedented job growth in the United States, topping the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Fastest Growing Occupations list.

This growth is driven by several factors, including a nationwide shortage of primary care providers and the expansion of practice authority for NPs nationwide. Let’s further explore these factors to understand why this opportunity is so immense.

Factors Behind the Growth of Nurse Practitioners — and the Resulting Demand

The following represent the two primary reasons NP careers are on the rise:

1. Shortage of primary care providers

The U.S. has been grappling with a shortage of primary care providers for years. According to a report from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the country may face a deficit of between 21,400 and 55,200 primary care physicians by 2033. This shortage is partly due to an aging population, which requires more healthcare services and a wave of retiring physicians.

The demand for primary care services is particularly acute in rural and underserved urban areas. NPs, with their advanced education and training, are well positioned to help bridge this gap in healthcare provision.

2. Expansion of practice authority

The scope of practice for NPs has expanded significantly over the past few years. As of 2021, 22 states and the District of Columbia grant full practice authority to NPs, allowing them to diagnose, treat and prescribe medication without physician supervision. This expansion of practice authority has increased the demand for NPs and their ability to provide comprehensive care to patients — particularly in underserved communities.

Considerations for Nurses Contemplating an NP-Focused Education

Some might argue that just because there is a need for NPs doesn’t guarantee this trend will continue. The BLS disagrees. There are multiple reasons why NPs can be confident in entering into this occupation:

Growing job opportunities

The BLS projects that the employment of NPs, along with nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives, will grow 40% from 2021 to 2031 — much faster than the average for all occupations. This impressive job growth means that nurses who complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) NP program will likely find ample job opportunities upon graduation.

Competitive salaries

NPs enjoy competitive salaries. Per a Journal of Nursing article, the median annual pay for NPs was $120,680 in 2021. In addition, NPs specializing in certain areas may earn even higher salaries. This strong earning potential makes the investment in an MSN NP program worthwhile for many nurses.

Increased autonomy and job satisfaction

With the expansion of practice authority, NPs have greater autonomy in their roles, enabling them to make critical decisions and provide comprehensive patient care. Increased autonomy often leads to higher job satisfaction, as NPs can fully utilize their skills and knowledge to improve patient outcomes.

Is an NP Career Right for You? Get Started Today

The rapid growth of the NP profession is a testament to the valuable role these healthcare providers play in the U.S. healthcare system. As the demand for primary care providers continues to grow, NPs will be exposed to ample (and lucrative) opportunities in the healthcare field. But first, they must move through the education process to arrive at that point. NPs must complete a thorough MSN program dedicated to NP skills and knowledge.

One such tract is the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) online program at La Salle University. This comprehensive program consists of robust coursework, covering every aspect future NPs need to know to succeed in their career — from pediatric to gerontological patients and everyone in between.

Depending on previous experience and desired pace, students can complete the FNP track in as few as 32 to 40 months. This accelerated schedule allows NPs to get started on their career goals as soon as possible.

Learn more about La Salle University’s online MSN FNP online program.

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