By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor Jan 18, 2021
Looking for opportunities to contribute? There’s never been a
better time to be a nurse or a nurse practitioner. Regardless of title or area
of specialty, nurses, advance practice nurses and other clinicians are needed
as the country continues to battle COVID-19 and the seasonal flu in addition to
patients’ chronic conditions.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the RN workforce will grow from
nearly 3 million in 2019 to 3.3 million in 2029, an increase of 7 percent. Over
the same period, the number of nurse practitioners (NPs) are
expected to grow from just over 211,000 in 2019 to 322,000 in 2019—representing
a whopping 54 percent increase!
BLS data on Occupational Employment
and Wages for May 2019 lists the mean annual salary for NPs at
$111,840, compared to the mean annual salary of $77,460 for RNs.
In the short term, the pandemic has been stretching all ranks of
nurses and opening up more opportunities for jobseekers, including locum tenens NP assignments. In the longer
term, trends in the nursing workforce are showing that more registered nurses are
advancing their education to become nurse practitioners, as outlined in a February 2020 report in Health Affairs.
So, what’s the attraction of the NP career path?
An overview of nurse practitioners
Nurse practitioners have the ability to provide clinical care across a variety
of settings and patient populations -- from major teaching hospitals to working
in a rural setting. Offering an extended scope of practice, excellent
compensation and unprecedented demand, NPs have a number of career options.
NPs are considered advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs)
who are prepared in master's- or doctoral-degree programs. Other APRNs include clinical
nurse specialists (CNSs), certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and certified
registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). The BLS projects that overall employment
of APRNs is projected to grow 45 percent from 2019 to 2029.
The field has already seen tremendous growth. As of August 2020,
the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) estimated that more than
290,000 nurse practitioners were licensed to practice in the United States.
This is compared to approximately 91,000 licensed NPs in 2000 and 190,000 in
2017, as noted in a February 2020 study
published in Health Affairs.
"NPs are the providers of choice for millions of patients. Current
provider shortages, especially in primary care, are a growing concern, yet the
growth of the NP role is addressing that concern head-on,” said Joyce
Knestrick, PhD, APRN, CFNP, FAANP, AANP president in a statement.
Nurse practitioners are trained to assess,
diagnose, order, and interpret medical tests, prescribe medications, and
collaborate in the care of patients, but their scope of practice varies from
state to state.
One of the things that sets NPs apart from
other healthcare providers, according to the AANP, is their unique emphasis on
the health and well-being of the whole person. With a focus on health
promotion, disease prevention and health education and counseling, NPs guide
patients in making smarter health and lifestyle choices.
From RN to NP: Becoming
a nurse practitioner
Registered nurses who have thought about going back to school to
become an NP may find this the ideal time to pursue an advanced degree; many nursing
schools and colleges are making accommodations for testing and in-person
clinical requirements in light of the current pandemic, and some are
offering enticing packages including fellowships and loan forgiveness.
In fact, registered nurses are already on track to become an NP.
According to the AANP, one must be a registered nurse, hold a Bachelor of
Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, complete an NP-focused master’s or doctoral
nursing program and then successfully pass a national NP board certification
AANP is also encouraging RNs to apply for a Loretta Ford Centennial
Scholarship to become an NP. “In honor of Dr. Loretta C. Ford,
co-founder of the NP role, AANP has launched a special scholarship program to
empower NPs of the future. The Loretta Ford Centennial Scholarship program will
provide support to AANP members who are RNs as they pursue advanced education
to earn their Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP). Applicants will follow in
the footsteps of Dr. Ford, epitomizing the qualities of courage, determination,
perseverance, dedication and introspection.”
The deadline to apply is approaching rapidly on February 5, 2021.
Locum tenens assignments
While registered nurses will work with a travel nurse agency to find short-term
employment, nurse practitioners can find part-time or full-time assignments
with locum tenens agencies like Staff Care.
Benefits for locum NPs include high-paying contracts; the
flexibility to choose when and where you work; paid housing and travel
reimbursements; paid malpractice insurance; potential bonuses; and more. Locums
are considered independent contractors, so they will have to arrange for their
own health insurance.
Still considering your next step? Whether you’re an NP looking for extra shifts
in your local area, or want to travel to other locations where your skills are
needed, working as a locum tenens nurse practitioner could be the ideal
opportunity for you.
10 Things to Know About Locum Tenens
Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Scope of Practice for Nurse
Practitioners and the Impact of COVID-19
Staff Care has locum
tenens assignments for nurse practitioners, physicians and other advanced
practitioners across the U.S.
Find Locums NP Jobs