Choosing to work in healthcare is a fantastic career choice for so many reasons. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations will add 2.4 million jobs to the U.S economy between 2019 and 2029. Additionally, the median average wage for healthcare workers is close to $28,000 more than the average annual wage for all occupations! It’s plain to see that there are not only job opportunities in this field, but also impressive earning potential. Particularly, for nurses who endeavor to achieve advanced roles such as Nurse Practitioner (NP), the salary benefits rise to over $110,000 on average annually. However, with so many types of advanced nursing roles, how do you choose?
A great question to ask is, “Which nurse practitioner specialty is in highest demand?” This will help guide you to a prosperous, invaluable, and fulfilling role within the advanced nursing field. There are two areas of specialty nursing practice that we’d like to highlight: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). You’re about to find out why!
#1: Becoming Part of the Preventive Care Movement
Both the PMHNP and FNP career choices are embedded in healthcare systems that focus on helping patients stay at their best. We’re talking about preventive health.
All Americans are entitled to enroll in a basic healthcare plan through the national insurance marketplace, made available through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Preventive care is the core driver for basic insurance plans, and, in fact, there is a substantial list of preventive health benefits for adults that must be included in most plans with a free copayment when visiting an in-network doctor. Luckily, the trend in modern medicine is to manage risks and prevent problems through screenings and wellness visits, which helps people maintain a healthy and long life.
The overarching goal of PMHNPs is to holistically care for patients’ mental well-being across the lifespan, while the purpose of FNPs is to provide overarching clinical wellness and primary care to all patient populations.
#2: Strengthening Your Career Net with Advanced Knowledge
The other side of the coin to preventive care is that with more frequent attention, Americans are living longer lives whilst managing diseases that at one point would have been deadly. There are more treatments, more pharmacological advancements, and better data to care for people with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other morbidities than ever before. Americans are also more empowered to take their health concerns into their own hands and seek care, especially thanks to organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which helps create a bridge to access preventive health care services through the Affordable Care Act. Other volunteer-run groups, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), act as resources for recommendations on clinical preventive services. Some of their 2021 published recommendations cover topics including healthy weight and weight gain during pregnancy, colorectal cancer screening, vitamin D deficiency, and tobacco smoking cessation.
All of this to say, as Americans age and continue to manage health issues into their later years, nurse practitioners who have the skills and depth of knowledge to care for them will continue to be in high demand. Patients and their families expect doctors and nurses who are educated, licensed, experienced, and certified. FNPs and PMHNPs offer this all-encompassing care to all populations, from adults to women and children. Whether patients are in the assessment, treatment, or recovery phase, or managing a long-term illness, FNPs and PMHNPs are likely to be part of the graceful aging process.
#3: Responding to a Shortage
With the Affordable Care Act and all this talk about preventive care, the deep need in many communities for both mental health care and family health care can be quite surprising. Did you know that 84 million people are living in primary health professional shortage areas in America? Or even worse, that 125 million people have inadequate access to mental health care? It is unbelievable that tens of thousands of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in these two vital healthcare areas are so badly needed. Shortages like these bring opportunity, and clearly, FNPs and PMHNPs are in great demand across the United States.
#4: Living Up to High Standards
According to the most recent World Bank Data, in 2017 in the United States, there were 2.6 physicians per 1,000 people. Though that is significantly higher than the world average in 2017 of 1.57, it’s still unsettling to learn that other powerful global countries have much higher rates, such as France at 3.3, Russia at 4.0, and Germany at 4.2. Yet, the United States can tout the average lifespan of males at 76.3 and 81.4 for females in 2019, which is well beyond the world average of 72.74 in 2019. Without too deeply discounting the economic advantages available to American citizens, we must acknowledge the changing role of the healthcare professionals who support physicians.
Advanced practice registered nurses, such as FNPs and PMHNPs, are able to deliver efficient and effective care—ultimately reaching more individuals, more quickly, and with a lifesaving skillset—without the 6-12 years of investment in medical school and residencies. Instead, through a flexible PMHNP program or FNP program, these careers are attainable through an online, and part-time educational investment.
The curriculum covered in Goodwin University’s FNP program will help aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners reach their career goals in environments like physician’s offices, hospitals, and specialty clinics such as pediatrics. On the other hand, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners will use studies such as neuropsychopharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and mental health care across the age span, to reach diverse populations in settings like hospitals, schools, and private practices.
PMHNPs and FNPs are in High Demand
As we come out of a global pandemic, it’s clear that perspectives on healthcare, as well as mental health needs, have changed. More people are in need of mental health services, particularly those who have experienced loss from COVID-19, and the rising number of youth struggling with anxiety and depression. Thus, the demand for PMHNPs will increase, making mental health nursing among the Nurse Practitioner specialties in highest demand. Additionally, more people are focusing on preventive care – in efforts to stay healthy, keep on top of their health needs, and to prevent issues that may be threatened by viruses like COVID-19. Thus, the need for primary and preventive care providers, such as FNPs, will continue to rise – making FNPs another Nurse Practitioner specialty in highest-demand.
Giving back to your community through these advanced and high-demand Nurse Practitioner roles is more than just a service—it promises a secure and fulfilling lifetime career. We hope that you’ll learn more about becoming a PMHNP or joining the FNP program.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.