Deciding which specialty to focus on in your Nurse Practitioner program is a big decision. Make sure to take the time to investigate the variables associated with each specialty and how it can impact your career as a Nurse Practitioner.
The first and most important thing to take into consideration is your previous clinical experience and exposure as a Registered Nurse. What you seen that you like and don’t like. This may be an easy answer for some and a very difficult decision for others. What gets you up in the morning when you think about seeing and treating patients as a Nurse Practitioner? What age patient do you enjoy seeing and interacting with? What setting and schedule fits your professional and personal goals? Don’t pursue things based on what others think, your opinion is the only one that matters.
Whether you’re currently practicing or have practiced as and RN or not, get out and ask the questions you have to those that are already practicing in the field. Find the answers for yourself and do your own research. Ask to shadow Nurse Practitioners in settings that you may be unfamiliar with and want more knowledge about. Call Opportunity Healthcare and speak with one of our Consultants about the positions we have in the respective specialty. We are in the market every day and can tell you what we see as it relates to compensation, demand, and other pertinent factors that may play into choosing your specialty.
If you like variety, and frankly if you’re not sure what setting and specialty you want to be in then choose Family. As a Family Nurse Practitioner you have the most flexibility to do different things and try different settings. You can also see all ages. Don’t think that by choosing to be a Family Nurse Practitioner that you will always have to work in a family practice clinic. I work with candidates every day that are Certified Family Nurse Practitioners and they work as Hospitalists, in the Emergency Room, Psychiatric clinics, and any other setting or specialty you can think of. There are some state licensing variables, reimbursement issues, or hospital bylaws that may enter into the equation of not being able to practice in a certain areas but they are pretty rare.
Below, please find a brief description of Nurse Practitioner Specialties:
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Family Nurse Practitioners provide comprehensive care to individuals of all ages. FNP’s work in settings such as clinics and health departments providing care of both acute and chronic illness. They are also involved in illness prevention, disease management and patient education.
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Acute Care Nurse Practitioners are prepared to assess and treat adults with both acute and chronic illness. ACNP’s work in a variety of settings including the emergency department, specialty clinics (ex. cardiology, oncology), the intensive care unit and the hospital setting. As an ACNP, you will be prepared to diagnose and treat patients with complex medical conditions.
- Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP) Adult Nurse Practitioners are trained to treat individuals age 12 years and older. ANP’s work mainly in primary care clinics treating both acute and chronic disease. They also focus on teaching their patients health promotion and disease prevention.
- Geriatric Nurse Practitioner The Geriatric Nurse Practitioner is trained to provide primary care to elderly patients in clinics and skilled nursing facilities. Geriatric Nurse Practitioners diagnose and treat acute and chronic illness in older adults. They are also responsible for educating older adults and their families in areas such as health promotion, maintenance and management as well as disease prevention.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Neonatal nurse practitioners treat both preterm and full term infants with acute illness and/ or chronic medical conditions usually within a hospital environment. Neonatal nurse practitioners work with families to develop treatment plans for infants and neonates.
- Pediatric Nurse Practiitoner (PNP) Pediatric Nurse Practitioners work with children from birth to age 21. The provide services such as diagnosing acute illness, managing chronic health conditions and performing routine check-ups. Most work in outpatient clinics.
- Psychiatric- Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner treats individuals with emotional and behavioral problems as well as psychiatric illness and substance abuse problems. The PMHNP manages mental illness through prescribing medications as well as psychotherapy. Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in a variety of environments including private clinics, community mental health clinics and substance abuse facilities.
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Women’s Health Nurse practitioners provide care to women from adolescence to old age. Their main focus is reproductive and gynecological health. A Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner works in a variety of environments including OB-GYN clinics, prenatal clinics and Women’s Health clinics.