Hot Nurse Practitioner Specialties: In-Demand Fields You Need to Know

The demand for nurse practitioners is on the rise, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 45% increase in job openings over the next decade. With this growth comes an array of specialties that are highly sought after and offer nurses a chance to work in various settings. From primary care and acute care to mental health and oncology, there is no shortage of exciting opportunities for those looking to become nurse practitioners (NPs).

In this article, we will explore seven benefits of becoming an NP as well as some popular areas of specialty within nursing practice. We will also answer frequently asked questions related to NP careers so you can make an informed decision when choosing your area of expertise.

Nurse Practitioner Specialties in High Demand

Being a nurse practitioner is a very rewarding career, as it provides nurses with the opportunity to provide a higher level of care and specialize in certain areas of medicine. Also with the increased demand for NPs, there are several specialties that are in high demand. These include:

1. Primary Care

The primary care health team is like the backbone of the health care system, providing medical services and preventive care to individuals and families. A whopping 88% of the 355,000 licensed Nurse Practitioners in America have been trained to deliver primary care services. Primary care nurse practitioners specialize in diagnosing and treating common acute and chronic illnesses, providing immunizations and physical exams, ordering lab tests, interpreting results, and developing treatment plans.

They also have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including doctor’s offices, hospital clinics, or even home visits. Primary care nurse practitioners work with a wide variety of patients and must be adept at working in diverse environments.

Their role and responsibilities include:

  • executing, directing, and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests to accurately diagnose patients.
  • initiating and managing treatment, including prescribing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments
  • organizing care
  • counseling
  • and educating patients, their families, and the wider communities. 

2. Acute Care

Acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) specialize in providing medical care for patients with sudden, serious illnesses or injuries. They focus on the assessment and treatment of acute and complex conditions in hospitals, emergency rooms, intensive care units, trauma centers, and other specialized healthcare settings.

Also, they work under the supervision of a physician and provide care to patients with medical conditions that require immediate attention and intervention. ACNPs are highly skilled in diagnosing and managing acute conditions as well as providing comprehensive patient care, including prescribing medications, counseling patients and families, performing procedures, ordering laboratory tests, and interpreting results.

Their role consists of:

  • performing comprehensive health assessments
  • identifying and treating acute illnesses or injuries
  • coordinating care with other members of the healthcare team
  • providing patient education and counseling

3. Mental Health

Mental health nurse practitioners (MHNPs) specialize in providing comprehensive, evidence-based mental health services to individuals, families, groups, and communities. Their scope of practice includes:

  • assessing and diagnosing mental health conditions
  • developing individualized treatment plans
  • providing psychotherapy/counseling
  • prescribing medications
  • monitoring patient progress
  • coordinating care with other healthcare professionals

A mental health nurse practitioner can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice offices, community mental health centers, and long-term care facilities. They are also well-equipped to provide telemedicine services. With the US facing a severe shortage of mental health professionals and the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and substance use on the rise, there is an increasing demand for MHNPs to provide high-quality, accessible care.

4. Oncology

An oncology nurse practitioner (ONP) specializes in caring for cancer patients, providing both medical and emotional support. ONPs work with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers to ensure the best possible outcome for their patients. Their responsibilities include:

  • providing comprehensive assessment and management of cancer patients
  • ordering diagnostic tests, interpreting results, and formulating treatment plans
  • educating patients about their diagnosis and treatment options
  • monitoring response to therapies
  • coordinating patient care with other healthcare professionals
  • providing psychosocial support to patients and families.

With the rising number of cancer cases, there is a high demand for ONPs in both primary and oncology care settings.

5. Pediatrics

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) specialize in providing comprehensive medical services for infants, children, and adolescents. PNPs are highly skilled in diagnosing and managing acute, chronic, and complex medical conditions in children of all ages.

A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) is a type of PNP who specializes in providing care to neonates which are newborns that are less than one month old. Neonatal nurse practitioners are highly skilled in providing care to premature babies and managing complex medical conditions in newborns.

Their role includes:

  • performing comprehensive health assessments
  • managing acute and chronic illnesses
  • providing preventative care services
  • counseling patients and families about health promotion and disease prevention strategies
  • ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • prescribing medications
  • providing patient education
  • coordinating care with other healthcare professionals.

6. Geriatrics

At the other end of the spectrum, geriatric nurse practitioners (GNPs) specialize in providing comprehensive healthcare services to older adults. GNPs have an advanced understanding of the unique needs and challenges facing this population, including the impact of chronic conditions, cognitive impairment, frailty, and end-of-life care.

Their role includes:

  • performing comprehensive health assessments
  • identifying and treating acute and chronic illnesses
  • promoting health maintenance and disease prevention services
  • providing patient and family counseling
  • coordinating care with other healthcare professionals
  • prescribing medications.

Given the aging population in the US, GNPs are essential to providing high-quality, accessible care to this vulnerable population.

7 Benefits of Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Being a nurse practitioner can be an incredibly rewarding experience and provides numerous benefits, including:

1. Competitive Salaries

Due to their specialized skills and knowledge, NPs often enjoy higher salaries than bedside nurses. This can make it easier to pay off student loans and provide for their families.

2. Greater Autonomy

NPs have greater autonomy than registered nurses or licensed practical nurses, as they are able to make decisions without consulting a physician. This allows them to practice more independently and fully utilize their skills and knowledge.

3. Varied Work Settings

NPs can work in a variety of different settings, from hospitals to private practices, giving them the ability to find a job that suits their interests and lifestyle. Plus, they can move between settings as their career progresses.

4. Career Advancement Opportunities

NPs can move up the career ladder, taking on greater responsibilities and earning higher salaries as they progress in their careers. Nothing feels better than knowing you are making progress in your professional life.

5. Job Security

The healthcare industry is growing rapidly, and there are an increasing number of jobs available for NPs. This makes it easier to find and maintain employment in this field, especially with the uncertainty of the current job climate.

6. Flexible Schedule

NPs often have flexible schedules, allowing them to take time off when needed and balance their work with other priorities, such as family or hobbies. Plus with locum tenens healthcare opportunities, NPs can work with a wide variety of healthcare organizations across the country.

7. Making a Difference

Perhaps the greatest benefit of becoming a nurse practitioner is the satisfaction that comes from helping others. As NPs are highly skilled healthcare providers, they are able to make a real difference in their patient’s lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions to further clarify nurse practitioner roles and requirements:

How Long Does It Take To Become a Nurse Practitioner?

The length of time required to become a nurse practitioner depends on the type of education and specialty you choose, as well as the state you plan to practice in. Generally speaking, it takes four years to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at an accredited nursing school. From there, it typically takes two to three years to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or to complete three to four years of Doctor of Nursing Practice to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.

What Is the Average Salary for a Nurse Practitioner in the US?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average national salary for a nurse practitioner is $118,040 or $ 56.75 per hour.

How Do I Choose a Specialty as a Nurse Practitioner?

Choosing a specialty as an NP can be a daunting task. It is important to consider your interests and skills, while also looking at the job market in your area and the educational requirements for each specialty. You should also research what kind of work environment you are interested in and the salary range for your specialty.

Overall, aim to choose a specialty that you are passionate about and that you feel confident in your ability to provide the best possible care.

What Kind of Education Is Required To Become a Nurse Practitioner?

To become an NP, you will need to complete either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). You will also need to pass the national certification examination for the specialty you plan to practice in. Depending on your state, you may also need to complete additional coursework and obtain a license from your state board of nursing.

Final Thoughts

Overall, becoming a nurse practitioner requires a considerable amount of education and training, but the rewards of this profession make it well worth the effort. NPs play an important role in providing quality healthcare to patients, and their skills are highly valued by employers. With a growing demand for nurse practitioners, now is a great time to pursue this rewarding career path.

Frontera Search is committed to connecting talented nurse practitioners with rewarding positions in the healthcare industry. We have an extensive network of employers actively searching for NPs and can provide personalized career advice to help you on your journey.

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Hot Nurse Practitioner Specialties: In-Demand Fields You Need to Know

nurse practicioner working with patient