Within the last decade, the demand for nurse practitioners has increased considerably as there are fewer general practitioners or family doctors to provide primary care services to patients. It is currently one of the fastest growing professions in the health care industry as more nurse practitioners have gone into private practice such as opening their own clinics. Because of this, nurse practitioners have over than 2 million job openings nationwide making it one of the occupations estimated to have the highest numbers of job employment.
The boost in the demand for nurse practitioners has also been due to the increase in the aging population and the rise in the number of people requiring health services, health maintenance and health education. Because the rising health care costs have diverted the public’s attention to health promotion and wellness, the emphasis on disease prevention provides plentiful of employment opportunities for nurse practitioners.
Another reason for the projected increase in the demand for nurse practitioners is the anticipated scarcity of physicians in the coming years. According to various reports, there are fewer students pursuing a specialty in primary care and as more physicians retire over the years, the nurse practitioners are the apparent choice to provide primary care services.
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have completed their master’s degree and have passed the state examinations and fulfilled all the licensing requirements. In order for nurse practitioners to maintain an active license status and in order for them to be able to renew their license, almost all states require them to obtain nurse practitioner continuing education credits. These continuing education units are required in order to keep nurses up to date with the recent changes in the nursing field and in the health care industry. This will enable them to hone their skills and to improve their understanding of the nursing field as they gain new experiences and responsibilities. It is also a great opportunity to pick up a specialty.
To complete their continuing education requirements, nurse practitioners have to fulfill the state-required number of continuing education units from a period of time. The number of continuing education units that a nurse practitioner must fulfill depends on the issuing State. For instance, the state of California requires 30 hours of continuing education units every 24 months. Because the requirements per state vary, nurse practitioners must always check with their State governing board for any changes in continuing education requirements.
Continuing education units can be obtained in several ways. Options include enrolling in a semester or quarter college course at a community college or university, attending seminars, workshops and conferences, completing in-course training, and participation in work-related activities. Some courses for continuing education can also be taken online through e-books and by completing an online continuing education examination. Courses or workshop/conference topics that can fulfill the continuing education requirements include pharmacology updates, pain management, infectious diseases, legal issues, men’s/women’s health and more, antibiotic updates, and ethics and advocacy.