The career of an NP is about to undergo some changes in the United States, but fear not! The future’s still bright for people who decide to commit to this great profession. COVID-19 has brought us together as a country, but healthcare professionals are now in short supply, and people are taking measures to try to bring things back to normal. As an NP student, you might be a little overwhelmed. You might not know what to do. This is understandable, but you are not alone. In this blog post you will learn:
- How nursing as a career will change in the coming months
- The steps that you can take to stay ahead of the competition
- What telehealth is (and why it matters)
Nurses are in great demand nowadays. In fact, the World Health Organization has said that the world needs at least six million more nurses to fight the pandemic. There are a lot of different paths that you can take right now to better yourself, and there are many benefits to being a nurse today. Higher wages, job security and opportunities… If you can name it, it’s probably there, but how can you get started? What should be your first step during this pandemic?
Studying to be an NP in the age of COVID-19
An NP student realizes that their career is a little different from others in the nursing field. They need to have a lot more knowledge and specialized skills. However, all NPs have to take the same exam, the NCLEX, for licensure. This test is one of the parts of the curriculum that have been affected by the pandemic.
Some test centers have closed and are now just reopening. Social distancing is still heavily enforced, which leads to fewer students taking the test. If you found this article because you’re looking into becoming an NP, you might want to do some more research into these changes.
Some people will find that taking the actual test might have actually become easier. The exam now has fewer questions, and authorities also reduced its time to four hours. Students are now allowed to take it with protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
Pre-test and final questions were also removed, as they served only a statistical purpose. These questions were meant to collect information on the people who take the NCLEX, and they might not come back for a long time.
Do these changes affect the amount of students that will go into nursing? Maybe, but maybe not so much. The bar is still pretty high for test takers, as the difficulty remains the same.
Licensure changes, student loans and professional challenges
As of right now, patients outnumber caregivers in the United States. It could be easy to see this as something bad, but it’s more of a double-edged sword. The nursing profession still attracts hundreds of thousands of people nationwide because of things like job security, benefits, and the ability to do one’s part to make the world a better place. However, we have to be honest with you: nurses have to face a lot of risks, as well as some important challenges.
You’ll probably hear all about it on the news. Nurses are protesting, PPE is at an all time low. What you probably won’t hear too much about is changes to licensing. As an NP student, you might want to start looking into possible job opportunities because most states are now loosening restrictions for licensing.
You will probably be able to practice outside of your home state without having to worry about getting a different license. These measures aim to combat the shortage of healthcare personnel all across the country.
Another low point for NP students has to do with student loans. We advise that you start looking into the requirements to get a deferred payment. If you have federal student loans, you’re in luck. The CARES Act lets you take advantage of things like reduced interest and suspended payments.
However, if that’s not the case for you, we really advise that you start looking into it. You should also be aware that the AACN has created a relief fund for nursing students, which you can access by completing an application on their website. You have until June 30 to submit yours, so hurry up!
COVID-19 training and telehealth
You still need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to COVID-19. We have a lot of knowledge right now about the disease, but things change quickly. We suggest that you start looking into COVID-19 training programs and online courses. This kind of study will give you an edge over your peers.
This training will also help you be prepared for the inevitable: as cases keep rising there’s a good chance you might encounter at least one infected – or suspected to be infected – patient. If you are lucky enough to not have to go through this experience, you will still have some knowledge to share and, again, make the world a much healthier place.
Last but not least, the elephant in the room: telehealth. You might encounter it while studying, and you might encounter it while practicing.
Telehealth matters because there is still a need to keep social distancing in America. NPs can benefit a lot from being able to see patients with minor illnesses and complications without the risk of becoming infected with COVID19.
Telehealth is merely a temporary solution to keep everyone safe and lower the number of cases, and this is not something that people instinctively know how to do. Consider looking into it as well. Find online resources that help you accommodate your practice to be more effective while treating patients who are not there with you.
Last but not least, preceptorship
Keep in mind that finding a preceptor is going to be harder than ever. If you already booked your rotations, be sure to reconfirm. If you haven’t done that, check out our previous articles on the subject. COVID-19 has already resulted in lots of closed clinics and lots of missed deadlines. You don’t want to be part of that statistic. Remember that NPHub will always be with you in every step of this particular journey. You can sign up now and start looking for preceptors today.
At the end of the day, we know that this will be over soon. However, nurses need to be more empowered than ever before because they are the backbone, they are the lifeline. We want you to be prepared and we want you to be safe. Don’t take anything for granted in these trying times, but don’t let life pass you by during the pandemic. Always remember that, even if things look a little dire, you’re very lucky to have chosen the path of the nurse practitioner.
To inform yourself more on all of the trending and important NP matters, and get a lot of very useful content, check out our:
Also, if you wish to continue your education, take a look at our online courses for nurses platform NPHub Academy at: https://www.academy.nphub.com