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The Evolving Role of the Nurse Practitioner

As the number of NPs continues to increase, a lot can be learned from the evolution of this role and what that means for their place in the future of health care.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) have always played a pivotal role in providing quality healthcare. The high caliber of care and compassion that NPs provide make an immense difference in the lives of patients and their families.  Recently, the advancement of technology and the increased need for providers have caused the roles and responsibilities of NPs to evolve.

In 1979, there were just 15,000 NPs in the United States. Today, there is an increasing demand for nurse practitioners in the U.S., and that number is expected to increase by 52% by 2030. As the number of NPs continues to increase, a lot can be learned from the evolution of this role and what that means for their place in the future of health care. 

What does an NP do?

Nurse practitioners are responsible for providing both primary and specialty care for patients. NPs deliver quality care and compassion to health care by combining clinical competence in diagnosing and treating health issues, with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management. They usually work with a specific patient population, such as adults and geriatrics, children, and psychiatric and mental health patients. Depending on their location and state, they may work with or without a doctor.

Where do NPs work?

You’ll find a nurse practitioner at practically any facility where medical care is offered. From hospitals to clinics, and from schools to nursing homes, there are plenty of locations for NPs to provide patient care. Some NPs even open their own practices. One of the most appealing aspects of being an NP is greater flexibility to work where you want.

How has the role changed in the last 10 years?

While nurse practitioners have provided quality care for over 50 years, their responsibilities have changed — thanks largely to new advancements in technology: 

  • Medical records can be seamlessly stored and shared digitally rather than in physical files.
  • Healthcare providers can communicate and connect with patients more easily thanks to telehealth appointments.
  • Medical technology like 3-D printers and artificial intelligence have influenced advancements in medical care and will continue to revolutionize the way patients are treated.

How will their roles continue to evolve?

As the population ages, an increasing number of Americans will require primary care services, contributing to an increasing shortage of primary care doctors. The pandemic has added a multiplier effect to this challenge and created an increased demand for qualified and compassionate NPs. It’s not surprising that U.S. News & World Report named NPs as the #1 Best Health Care Job for 2022. 

What kind of NPs are there?

Another appealing aspect of working as a nurse practitioner is the variety of specialties available. Acute CareGerontology HealthOncologyNeonatal Health and Pediatric/Child Health are just a few of the specialties in which nurse practitioners work. Each involves slightly different day-to-day duties and responsibilities, but all are a great fit for empathetic, dedicated and motivated people. 

Are you interested in a career as a nurse practitioner? No matter what specialty you pursue, a career as an NP will be fast-paced, fun, challenging and, most importantly, rewarding. For those ready to start their journey toward becoming a successful NP, Herzing University has a variety of comprehensive NP programs to help get you started. 

Learn More About Our Nurse Practitioner Programs

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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