Three truths and one big fat myth about NPs


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There’s no doubt about it: Nurse practitioners are poised to become the next generation’s primary care providers in this country.

After years of practicing as an NP and being a nurse educator, here are three other truths I foresee for the field of NPs, plus one big fat myth I would love to dispel!

Three Big Truths:

1. NPs have a bright and exciting future.
Money magazine listed NP as the fourth most desirable job in the country (see the article here). With healthcare reform on the way and less than two percent of students in medical school looking to go into primary care, it’s nurse practitioners who will be the primary care providers in this country. It’s a great time to become a nurse practitioner.

2. Job satisfaction runs high.
Most NPs are able to work part time and balance a family life with a satisfying professional life. I have patients who have followed me from practice to practice over the past 19 years because they know that I care about their healthcare needs and emphasize disease prevention as well as health maintence. Partnering with the patient to improve his or her health is enormously rewarding.

3. There are loan forgiveness programs for NPs.
If you are not attached to living in big urban areas, there are health provider shortage areas (HPSAs) across the country where employment can qualify you to apply for loan forgiveness or repayment from the government through the National Health Services Corps at

Big Fat Myth: NPs are “mid-level.”
NPs are not mid-level. They are advanced practice nurses. There is no higher level of practice in the nursing profession. NPs are regulated by boards of registered nurses across the country. Although many states still have MD supervisory or collaborative language in their statutes, NPs are independent practitioners and are not regulated or administered by any boards of medicine.

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Suzanne August-Schwartz

Suzanne August-Schwartz has been practicing as an FNP since 1986. She has been teaching in the FNP program at Samuel Merritt University (SMU) in Oakland, Calif., since 2001, and has been director of the FNP program at SMU since 2006. Suzanne received her BSN straight after high school in 1982 from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She received her MSN and family nurse practitioner certificate in 1986 from UCSF, and her DNP from Rush University in Chicago in 2008.

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5 Responses to Three truths and one big fat myth about NPs

  1. Celina NP

    #3 sounds incredibly interesting and would be great to have more information about it. This little lead will prompt people, like myself, to investigate this “loan forgiveness” opportunity. The demand is all over the country in all reaches of life and with some investigation and research, those hoping to advance their practice can find opportunities such as these. It would be interesting for this woman to write another article about NPs with opportunities such as detailed in #3 for those interested in the profession to explore. I really enjoy reading the NP articles that you guys have.

  2. I’d no idea about the loan forgiveness opportunity. Thats really great– Also,I never thought about the fact that NPs are really filling in the role of primary care providers, but in my case, that is true. I don’t have a PCP, and the NP at my office is my point person, who knows the most about me, and my medical situation. I am not insured, by the way.

    Going to forward this to my friend and soon-be-NP, thanks.

  3. Megan Gilbert RN

    Great Article!! I hope to someday become a nurse practioner! Would love to hear more about it!!

  4. Amanda

    I am an ARNP in Florida and yes there are loan forgiveness programs through the state and federal programs as well. I agree that the primary care role is going to fall on the laps of the NP. I am an Adult NP and work in a OB/Gyn office doing mostly Gyn but I also have patients that followed me from my prior practice that I also manage. I am also referred patients from the OB’s in the office to manage some basic primary care. I also see all of the “sick” OB patients that the PCPs in my area dont want to manage. I agree about not being a mid-level… I am a provider. I do have a collaborating physician but she sends me patients that are out of her scope of practice. Nice article!

  5. vickie

    I was just in a CE class and another nurse told me that it isn’t worth it to pursue the NP because most are hired salary, the work week is a minimum 60 hrs/week (this is why doctors were the first people to have pagers, remember?), and a regular RN working overtime can earn just as much as a NP, without all the extra workload and responsibility. It sounds very fulfilling, though. And definitely not mid-level. I have been cared for by NPs and prefer it (I am an RN) because you have more time with them — instead of just 5 minutes with an MD.