Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

As the U.S. population ages, there is an increasing need for primary care providers. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. could experience a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030.

Increasingly, the void is being filled by nurse practitioners (NP), nurses trained with a master’s degree who can provide many of the same services that primary care physicians can.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

The Houston Chronicle wrote that an NP “is authorized to perform many tasks that were once only the province of doctors. NPs are one of four types of advanced practice nurses, or APNs. The group also includes certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified registered nurse anesthesiologists.”

Nationwide, the need for NPs is pressing with an anticipated job growth of more than 30 percent in the next decade. As of May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 1,150 nurse practitioners employed in New Hampshire. The greatest concentration of NPs is in the office of physicians and in out-patient clinics. Other places there are high concentrations of NPs are hospitals, personal care services, and religious organizations. The city with the highest nurse practitioner salary in New Hampshire is Nashua.

Nurse Practitioner Requirements

Nurse practitioner requirements vary by state. New graduates from board-approved nursing programs in the United States or Canada who meet the program requirements set forth by the Board of Nursing may apply using the Application for Licensing by Examination.

The New Hampshire Board of Nursing oversees the licensing and regulation of nursing practice in New Hampshire, including advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) in the following categories:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): Assists in labor and delivery
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): Administers anesthetics in all practice settings and provides care for all operations or procedures
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP): Provides primary care for patients aged 12 years and older
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP): Provides primary care for patients under the age of 12

To obtain a nurse practitioner license, candidates are required to take an Advanced Practice Registered Nurses exam. The license must be renewed every two years before midnight on the candidate’s birthday. If licensing lapses, requirements for nurse practitioners to renew it include additional education and monitored fieldwork. Specifically, lapsed NPs must complete 30 hours in their specialty in addition to the 30 hours required for bi-annual license renewal.

To meet the Board’s continuing competency requirement, NPs are required to complete at least 400 hours of work over a four-year period. Failing to meet this standard results in a mandatory re-entry process that includes additional class time and re-taking the APRN exam.

Nurse Practitioner Salary and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the demand for NPs is growing “much faster than average,” with a predicted job growth of 31 percent by 2026. Growth will occur primarily because of an “increased emphasis on preventive care and demand for healthcare services from an aging population.”

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was created to combat the shortage. The NLC increases access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. It allows nurses to practice in other NLC states without having to obtain additional licenses. The compact includes many Northern states, such as Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, and extends throughout the country.

In addition to the compact, many states, including New Hampshire, are trying to avoid the primary care provider shortage by offering incentives. New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) gives funds to health care professionals working in areas of the state designated as “medically underserved,” which are areas that have high infant mortality, high poverty or a high elderly population and not enough primary care providers. Funds are also given to those who enter a contract to work at medical facilities in the state for a minimum of three years if full-time, or two years if part-time.

NPs work in every aspect of healthcare, from private practices to hospitals and urgent care units to geriatric homes. Anywhere a physician would work, so can a nurse practitioner. Where a nurse practitioner is employed greatly determines salary, but the annual median salary for this position is $103,880. On average, a nurse practitioner’s salary in New Hampshire is $112,440.

Advance or Start Your Career

In Rivier University’s online M.S. in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner program, you will gain the skills you need to serve as a primary healthcare provider. Students in the program gain advanced theory and clinical education in topics such as pathophysiology, health assessment, family nursing theory, quality healthcare improvement, health policy, and research design.

Multiple term starts and competitive tuition rates are designed to help you start, and finish, faster, typically in 3-5 years.

Want to take your career even further? Rivier University Online also offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program.