Published January 22, 2024
By SARAH GOLDTHRITE
The nurse practitioner has claimed the prestigious No. 1 position on U.S. News & World Report's 100 Best Jobs list for 2024, rising one place from its spot in the previous year's rankings. It also topped both the Best Health Care Jobs and Best STEM Jobs categories, highlighting the versatility and importance of this profession in the evolving landscape of health care.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) play a pivotal role in health care, operating as highly skilled health care professionals with full practice authority in over half of U.S. states and territories. They are advanced practice registered nurses who provide primary, acute and specialty care to patients of all ages. NPs have specialized knowledge and training, allowing them to provide a wide range of health care services in diverse practice settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices and community health centers.
Nurse practitioners are known for their versatility, with specialization in anesthesia, family, pediatrics, adult-gerontology, mental health, women’s health and more. Their flexibility allows them to cater to diverse patient populations, addressing the health care needs of individuals across the lifespan. Whether it's providing primary care, managing chronic conditions or offering preventive services, nurse practitioners are at the forefront of delivering comprehensive and patient-centered care.
“Becoming a nurse practitioner allows you to make a difference by focusing on optimizing health and assist in making care more accessible to your community,” says Pamela Paplham, DNP, AOCNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, associate dean for clinical programs at UB’s School of Nursing.
Becoming a nurse practitioner involves obtaining advanced education beyond the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Typically, NPs hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. In these graduate programs, NPs develop their advanced clinical knowledge to diagnose, manage treatment and prescribe medication. This advanced education equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver high-quality comprehensive health care.
The career outlook for nurse practitioners is exceptionally promising. As the demand for health care services continues to rise, nurse practitioners are well-positioned to fill critical roles, addressing the growing need for accessible and quality health care.
In addition to a rewarding career, nurse practitioners enjoy competitive salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a mean annual wage of $124,680, approximately double the national average ($61,900), making it a financially rewarding profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 45% employment growth rate for NPs through 2032, significantly faster than the 3% average rate for all occupations.
The recognition of the nurse practitioner as the number one job of 2024 is a testament to the profession's increasingly pivotal role in meeting the needs of a dynamic and rapidly evolving health care landscape.