6 Nurse Practitioner Specialties: Choosing the Right Path for You
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses who have completed advanced education and clinical training to provide quality healthcare services to patients.
As a nurse practitioner, you can choose from various specialties and practice settings, each with its unique patient population and focus. Choosing the right specialty is crucial in determining job satisfaction, professional growth, and overall career success.
This article discusses the six nurse practitioner specialties – family, adult-gerontology, pediatric, psychiatric-mental health, women’s health, and acute care – and provides information on job duties, patient populations, educational and certification requirements, average salary, and job outlook. This article will help you decide which nurse practitioner specialty is the right path for you.
Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) is a rewarding career choice with endless opportunities to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care and impact patients’ lives.
But do you know what it’s like to be a nurse practitioner? Being an NP involves working collaboratively with healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans for patients and having the autonomy to specialize in a particular area of healthcare.
Although it can be challenging, requiring critical thinking skills, effective communication, and staying current with industry trends and technologies, being a nurse practitioner offers a fulfilling career helping others while continually learning and growing in the healthcare industry.
As of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were approximately 234,690 nurse practitioners (NPs) in the United States, earning a mean salary of $118,040 per year. In addition, Texas has been recognized as the state with the highest number of job opportunities for NPs. At the same time, California is the highest-paying state for NPs, with a median yearly salary of $151,830.
It is important to note that experience, education, and specialization can impact an NP’s salary and job prospects. Therefore, NPs must stay up-to-date with industry trends and seek opportunities for professional development to advance their careers.
1. Family Nurse Practitioner
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) provide primary healthcare services to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. They work in various settings, including clinics, hospitals, private practices, and schools. In addition, FNPs promote health and prevent illness through patient education, health assessments, and managing acute and chronic illnesses.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), approximately 70.3% of NPs identify as FNPs, making it the most popular nurse practitioner specialty. As of February 27, 2023, the mean salary for a Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) in the United States is $120,250, with a salary range typically falling between $111,590 and $130,640, according to Salary.com.
The salary range for FNPs may differ based on various factors, including specialty, location, employer, and years of experience.
Aspiring FNPs must complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and obtain an RN license. Then, they can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, specializing in family practice.
2. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
AGNP is a nurse practitioner specializing in providing healthcare to adults and older adults, typically over 65. They are trained to diagnose and manage chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, and acute illnesses such as infections and injuries.
AGNPs also provide preventive care, including health screenings, immunizations, and wellness exams, and may provide end-of-life care to terminally ill patients. In addition, they work collaboratively with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to develop patient treatment plans. They may also serve as educators and advocates for patients and their families.
As per Salary.com, the mean annual salary of an AGNP in the United States was $103,560 as of February 27, 2023. However, the salary range for this specialty typically falls between $96,097 and $112,504.
3. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) is a nurse practitioner who specializes in providing healthcare to infants, children, and adolescents. They are trained to diagnose and manage acute and chronic illnesses, provide health screenings and physical exams, and offer preventive care, including immunizations and wellness exams.
PNPs also work with families to provide education and support on health-related issues, including nutrition, growth and development, and behavior management. PNPs have a mean annual salary of $114,900, according to Salary.com. This specialty is a great choice for those who have a passion for working with children and their families and want to positively impact their patients’ lives.
4. Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
They specialize in providing mental health care to patients of all ages. PMHNPs assess, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
PMHNPs use a variety of therapies, including medication management, psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help their patients manage their mental health conditions. They also work with families to provide education and support on mental health-related issues.
PMHNPs have a mean annual salary of $144,239, according to Indeed.com. This specialty is a great choice for those who have a passion for mental health and want to positively impact their patients’ lives. PMHNPs must have a strong foundation in psychology, neuroscience, and pharmacology and excellent communication skills to effectively diagnose and treat mental health disorders.
5. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
They specialize in providing primary and reproductive health care to women across their lifetimes. WHNPs provide preventive care, such as regular gynecological exams, contraception management, and screenings for sexually transmitted infections. They also provide prenatal care and help women manage conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and menopause. In addition, they work closely with obstetricians and gynecologists to provide comprehensive care to women.
WHNPs have an average salary of $135,448 per annum, according to Glassdoor. As a result, this specialty is a great choice for those who want to positively impact the lives of their female patients.
6. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
An ACNP specializes in providing advanced care to patients with acute or chronic illnesses. ACNPs play a critical role in diagnosing and treating patients with complicated medical conditions, often in highly stressful situations.
They work with a wide range of patients, including those who have experienced strokes, heart attacks, or traumatic injuries, as well as those with chronic conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, or cancer. ACNPs collaborate closely with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that their patients receive the highest quality, comprehensive care possible.
According to Talent.com, ACNPs have a median annual salary of $130,054. This specialty is ideal for those interested in working with critically ill patients who thrive in fast-paced, high-pressure environments.
ACNPs must have excellent communication and decision-making skills and the ability to work well under stress. They must also have a strong foundation in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and patient assessment to provide optimal patient care.
In conclusion, becoming a nurse practitioner is a rewarding career path with a range of specialties to choose from. By exploring the options available and considering your interests, skills, and career goals, you can decide which nurse practitioner specialty is right for you.