So you want to be a nurse practitioner?
The world of the nurse practitioner is changing. While its core competencies, roles and definition are not necessarily changing, its focus of practice is.
Gone are the days of a nurse practitioner moving between practice and population specialties. There was a time when a nurse who graduated and was certified as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) could practice in the acute care settings. And a nurse who graduated and was certified as an adult nurse practitioner (ANP) could practice in emergency care settings. Not anymore.
Due to our aging population, the growing severity of illnesses and the changing dynamic of health care, nurse practitioners are practicing in more specialized settings.
I’ve touched on this subject a couple of times. In the post “So you want to advance your career?” I discussed the numerous options for advancing your nursing career, and in the post “Advanced practice nursing and the 2015 DNP,” I wrote about the importance of the Consensus Model and how it will impact the NP career. I also touched on it in “Graduate school: 5 things you need to know before you go.”
If you are choosing the career path of a nurse practitioner, you will have to choose a specific direction. You will have to choose an area of practice, or more specifically, your specialty.
As an adult acute care nurse practitioner, I am not legally permitted to treat pediatric patients, nor can I work in the primary care setting.
I would like to offer the same advice I received three years ago from my former curriculum director when I asked which direction is my best choice: “Who do you picture yourself taking care of? What type/kind of patients do you want to treat?”
This usually will reveal a decision between two choices. After that, it’s a matter of personal preference.
For me, I always knew I wanted to treat the critically ill. I knew I wanted to stay in the ICU. So I chose to pursue a career as an ACNP. The next choice I had to make was about what population I wanted to treat, adult or pediatrics? And for me, it was staying with the adult population.
Ultimately, this evolution to have nurse practitioners specialize in specific areas strengthens patient safety and enhances our delivery of care. Do you agree?
Additional links that may be of interest if you’re considering an NP career: