As the name itself suggests, nurse practitioners (NP) are qualified medical practitioners who have partial or complete independent authorization to treat patients. The degree of independence a nurse practitioner has in regard to treating patients vary depending on multiple factors such as the state laws, the nurse’s qualifications, and their prior experience to name a few. Even in states where nurse practitioners do not have full practice authority (FPA), they will still have comparatively more independence in patient treatment than any other nursing professional within that same state’s jurisdiction. Besides, an experienced and qualified NP can shift to a FPA state at their own convenience for greater independence.

Now, as far as choosing the right nurse practitionership specialty is concerned, there are plenty of choices to consider. Not that any one option is superior or inferior to the other in terms of their importance, but there is always the benefit of suitability to consider. Experienced nurses who prefer working with families and community healthcare will find a family nurse practitionership (FNP) program to be best suited for them. At the same time, the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialty is ideal for nurses who interested to work in applied psychology. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some of the best specialty programs for future NPs next.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

A neonatal nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in treating and/or caring for vulnerable, sick, and at-risk newborns. There is no definite list of diseases, situations, or congenital disorders that a neonatal nurse practitioner is restricted to treating. They are tasked with the all-important duty of providing the best possible care which would help the susceptible infants live and hopefully, thrive. Experienced neonatal nurses may also be allowed partial or full practice authority as a pediatric practitioner, but that varies from state to state.

Although their prime focus is always the infant, the very nature of their work also requires them to work in proximity with the child’s parents, immediate family members, pediatricians, and other medical professionals. Nurse practitioners in general are well paid professionals, but NNPs are among the top earners in the field. As of mid-2022, neonatal nurse practitioners are earning more than $110,000 per year, excluding all bonuses and benefits.

Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

There are several avenues that experienced and working psychiatric/mental health nurses can pursue, as it is one of the broadest professional sectors in nursing. However, properly qualified psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) can come to hold the highest degree of authority in the field.

The necessary qualifications to join a PMHNP program may vary, but registered nurses (RN) with at least one year of clinical experience, a BSN degree (3.0 GPA), and an unblemished record can apply to join the online Wilkes PMHNP course right now. It’s a CCNE accredited program, so the certificate will hold its esteemed value across all 50 US states. After attaining all necessary qualifications, duties of a PMHNP may include but is not limited to:

  • Assessing, diagnosing, counseling, and treating mental health patients across all age groups independently, or in an assistive role.
  • Assessing, diagnosing, counseling, and treating people across all age groups suffering from substance abuse disorders independently, or in an assistive role.
  • Providing lifetime assistance to at-risk former/present patients under their psychiatric care.

Even if you do not have plans to work independently in one of the FPA states, rest assured that PMHNPs are paid ($115,000/year) more on an average across all US states, than the norm ($101,000) for NPs in general. Psychiatric nurse practitionership also happen to be the highest paid NP specialty sector in 2022.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family nurse practitioners in FPA states can hold the highest medical authority as independent nurse practitioners. They can assess, treat, order diagnostic examinations, and write medical prescriptions in much the same manner as a general physician (GP) can. Even in states where NPs do not yet have full practice authority, experienced FNPs will usually hold a prominent position of authority where they work. FNPs can work as primary care providers in most states, acting as the initial contact point for the patient. The scope of a FNP’s pay range varies widely, depending on the state, city, experience, qualification, and position. Nevertheless, the average earnings of a family nurse practitioner before bonuses and benefits stand at roughly $99,000/year in 2022.

As primary care providers for the whole family, FNPs are expected to deal with patients across all age groups from children to seniors. If they do not have FPA, they will have to work in an assistive role under the guidance of physicians. Where they do have full practice authority though, FNPs can treat patients in their own independent clinics with nearly the same medical authority as a GP. While working in rural communities where medical care is scarcely available, the duties of a FNP take on a much more serious role. They often serve as medical leaders of the community, responsible for providing the community with specific guidelines as applicable, to improve and maintain physical wellbeing. To achieve this, FNPs may device general and personalized treatment plans, suggest making dietary changes, and run campaigns to raise health awareness within the community.

All nurse practitioners are certified, licensed, and experienced medical practitioners. How far that authority goes is variable, as already discussed. Barring only certified nurse anesthetists (CRNA), NPs are also the highest paid nursing professionals in the entire field. Therefore, one cannot go really go wrong with choosing any of the specialties mentioned here. Even then, making an informed choice should not be difficult now, given that now you have a good idea of what to expect from each separate NP specialization. Choose an online course because it will allow you to gain clinical work experience while studying. It should not be hard to imagine how difficult it would be to get higher education in the traditional way, while holding on to your current nursing job. Both financial stability and work experience would take a major hit if the average RN had to leave their job to study fulltime.