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Independent Nurse Practitioner Pros and Cons 

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), there are more than 355,000 licensed nurse practitioners (NPs) in the United States. For many of these NPs, entrepreneurship is an appealing option. As with most career decisions, there are pros and cons to consider before embarking on the journey. Navigating through the credentialing process, creating – and sticking to – a budget, and finding a work-life balance are just a few of the challenges. To make a decision that works best for you, understanding both the rewards and challenges is key.  

Pro: Autonomy and Work-Life Balance 

Family nurse practitioners have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the growing demand for accessible and affordable healthcare. In fact, the role of nurse practitioner ranked first on U.S. News & World Report’s “2023 Best Health Care Jobs” and second on its “100 Best Jobs of 2023.” These rankings are based off several factors including demand, salary, opportunities for growth, and more.  

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As the shortage of primary care physicians continues to grow, nurse practitioners are taking on larger roles in the care of patients of all ages. As a result, many nurse practitioners are seeking increased autonomy by opening their own practice to better serve their patients. Depending on state regulations, many NPs can make independent diagnoses, prescribe medication, and order diagnostic tests without the direct supervision of a physician. However, with greater autonomy comes greater responsibility, which is an important consideration when weighing the pros and cons of being a nurse practitioner with an independent practice. 

As the chief decision-makers, independent NPs can make choices that will improve their practice operations and cut through the bureaucratic red tape found in many health systems. Other advantages of entrepreneurship include opportunities to: 

  • Create your own schedule for best work-life balance 
  • Obtain credentialing for multiple states to expand your practice and reach more patients 
  • Develop individualized patient-centered care plans to improve outcomes 
  • Establish your own operational processes  
  • Customize your EHR (Electronic Health Record) to your specific practice needs  
  • Specialize in niche practice areas to expand scope of practice 

Pro: Improved Patient Care  

Nurse practitioners approach healthcare management from a holistic perspective that focuses on promoting health, preventive care, and detecting diseases at an early stage. NPs play a significant role in patient education, empowering patients to manage their health and making informed decisions about their treatment plans.  

In fact, an article published on asserted that NPs with full practice authority improve healthcare outcomes for their patients, community, and overall population through improved access, cost-effectiveness, and increased trust and patient satisfaction. According to the article, “These improved outcomes lead to healthier individuals, a decrease in uncontrolled chronic health problems, early identification of cancers, or even identification of high-risk patients to implement a plan to reduce the risk of cancer.”    

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Lower healthcare costs are also an advantage for patients. Nurse practitioners provide high-quality and cost-effective care compared to physicians. They are trained to provide comprehensive and evidence-based care that meets the needs of patients. NPs generally have lower overhead costs than physicians, which translates into a lower cost of care for patients. Studies have shown that NPs can provide quality healthcare services at reduced rates compared to physicians, and this has led to increased demand for NPs in healthcare delivery.  

Finally, nurse practitioners contribute to patient satisfaction by creating a patient-centered care environment that focuses on the needs and preferences of patients. They provide a personalized approach to care that considers the cultural, social, and economic factors that affect a patient’s health. NPs communicate and engage with patients to build trust, foster good relationships, and improve patient outcomes. Studies also have shown that patients often are more satisfied with the care they receive from NPs than physicians.  

Con: Responsibilities of Business Ownership 

Being a nurse practitioner business owner comes with a unique set of responsibilities. Not only are you responsible for ensuring quality patient care, but also for managing the business side of things. This includes hiring staff, maintaining financial records, and creating marketing strategies to attract new patients. Also, independent NP opportunities can be limited in reduced practice states, which could create concerns about job security.  

It also is important to understand the associated costs of opening an independent practice. While the specific expenses can vary based on location and individual requirements, there are some common expenditures to consider. These costs include office space, equipment and supplies, licensing and liability insurance, and employee salaries if applicable. It is important to plan and budget accordingly to ensure a successful and sustainable practice. Seeking advice from experienced practice consultants can also be helpful in navigating the business aspects of starting an NP practice

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Con: Challenges with Credentialing  

Nurse practitioner credentialing is a complex process that can pose many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is obtaining and documenting the necessary credentials required by health insurance plans and other organizations. The process of credentialing can be time-consuming and expensive, requiring multiple documents and verifications of education, licenses, and work experience.  

Credentialing is not uniform and varies greatly by health plans. It also can be costly, since you need to provide a practice address, proof of malpractice insurance, and state oversight (if your state requires it) up front – and those costs are ongoing while you wait to become credentialed. Fortunately, if you need guidance, NP credentialing experts are available to help support you along the way.  

Chart Your Own Course with NP Practice Consultants 

Becoming an independent nurse practitioner can be a highly rewarding career move. If you are considering this path, then both the pros and cons of full practice authority for independent nurse practitioners should be carefully considered. Advantages such as increased autonomy and the ability to improve patient access to care make this career choice an appealing option for many NPs. If you are considering pursuing an independent career path, we can help you manage every step of the process.  

Let’s Improve Patient Care Together