Advanced Practitioner

The demand for advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) continues to grow as the healthcare system experiences shortages of primary care providers. With an aging population and increased access to insurance, there is a greater need for providers who can deliver high-quality, cost-effective care. This has led to increased employment opportunities across a variety of specialties.

This article will provide an overview of some of the top specialty areas that are expected to see growth for advanced practice providers over the next few years. We'll look at details like salary ranges, work settings, patient populations, and day-to-day responsibilities. Whether you're considering a career as an NP, PA, or CNS, or are just interested in learning more about the advanced practice provider role, read on to learn which specialties are forecast to be in high demand.

First up is emergency medicine, which offers fast-paced and challenging work for providers interested in acute care and trauma treatment.

Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine is projected to be one of the most in-demand advanced practice nursing specialties in 2024. The aging population and a rise in chronic health conditions have contributed to an increase in emergency room visits in recent years. This has created a greater need for highly skilled nurse practitioners who can provide rapid assessment, diagnosis, and treatment in urgent care settings.

The primary role of an emergency nurse practitioner is to deliver lifesaving interventions during medical crises. They evaluate and stabilize patients who present to the emergency department with traumatic injuries or sudden illnesses. This requires advanced assessment skills, the ability to make quick decisions under pressure, and procedural competence in areas like suturing, casting, and interpreting diagnostic images.

Emergency NPs also provide coordination of care by consulting with physicians, making admissions, and referring patients for follow-up care. They may work autonomously or collaboratively as part of an emergency medicine team. Strong communication skills are essential to coordinate with nurses, physicians, and ancillary staff during fast-paced and high-stress situations.

Currently, the average annual salary for emergency nurse practitioners is approximately $121,000. With the increased demand for emergency services, this specialty is expected to see competitive salaries and job growth in the coming years. The ability to thrive in a challenging and dynamic healthcare environment makes emergency medicine an attractive path for experienced NPs looking to advance their careers.

Primary Care

Primary care is increasingly becoming one of the most in-demand advanced practice specialties. With a growing physician shortage across the United States, primary care nurse practitioners play a vital role in providing preventative care, long-term disease management, and serving as the first point of contact for patients.

Some of the key factors driving demand for primary care NPs include:

  • Aging population with more chronic conditions requiring ongoing care
  • Doctor shortage leading to long wait times for appointments
  • Lower cost of NP care compared to physicians
  • Focus on preventative services and proactive health management

Primary care nurse practitioners see patients across the lifespan for a wide range of conditions. Some of the most common issues managed in primary care include:

  • Chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, asthma
  • Routine health maintenance and screening
  • Minor illnesses like cold, flu, infections
  • Management of depression, anxiety, mental health
  • Musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis, joint pain
  • Women's health services and reproductive care

With their advanced assessment skills and ability to develop long-term relationships with patients, primary care NPs play an integral role in improving access, reducing costs, and promoting wellness. As demand grows in the coming years, primary care offers a fulfilling and in-demand specialty for NPs seeking to make a difference on the frontlines of healthcare.


Pediatrics is an advanced practitioner specialty anticipated to grow in 2024. With an increased focus on preventive care and child wellness in recent years, the need for pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) continues to expand.

PNPs deliver care to patients from birth to young adulthood. They diagnose and treat a wide range of childhood illnesses and conditions such as asthma, allergies, infections, diabetes, injuries, learning disorders, developmental delays, and mental health issues. PNPs perform well-child visits and provide immunizations, health screenings, and guidance on nutrition, sleep, development, and safety.

As primary and specialty care providers for children, PNPs collaborate with families, schools, and other healthcare professionals to ensure their patients receive comprehensive care. They work in clinics, hospitals, schools, urgent care centers, and private practices. With their pediatric expertise and family-centered, holistic approach, PNPs are invaluable in improving health outcomes for children and teens. Growth in this specialty is expected as demand rises for preventive and primary care services targeted to younger populations.

Psychiatry/Mental Health

Mental health has become a growing focus in healthcare, with increasing demand for mental health services. As psychiatrists remain in short supply, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) play a pivotal role in providing access to mental healthcare.

PMHNPs can diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, eating disorders, and substance abuse disorders. With prescriptive authority, they can manage medications. PMHNPs often provide therapy and counseling as well.

Working closely with psychiatrists, PMHNPs help bridge the gap between medical management of psychiatric illness and psychotherapy. They are trained to evaluate and assess patients, develop treatment plans, and monitor outcomes. Their holistic perspective focuses on both mind and body.

As access to mental health services continues to be a priority, demand for PMHNPs will remain high. Their advanced clinical skills and compassionate approach helps improve outcomes for those struggling with mental illness.


The aging population is rapidly increasing demand for geriatric specialists. As people live longer and have more complex health needs, skilled geriatric care becomes even more essential. Nurse practitioners who specialize in geriatrics play a pivotal role through care coordination, family support, and optimizing quality of life.

Geriatric NPs often work in settings like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and private practices. Their focus is providing comprehensive, compassionate care to seniors dealing with multiple chronic conditions, disabilities, or terminal illnesses. Key responsibilities include assessing health status, creating care plans, managing medications, providing preventive care, and helping patients navigate healthcare decisions.

With expanding longevity and chronic disease rates, the career outlook for geriatric NPs is extremely promising. Job opportunities are abundant, given shortages of healthcare professionals with gerontology expertise. Geriatric NPs can enjoy rewarding work, as they empower seniors to have the best possible health, functionality, and independence during the later stages of life.


With cancer rates on the rise and new cancer treatments being developed, the need for advanced practitioners specializing in oncology is growing. The oncology advanced practitioner plays a pivotal role in providing patient education and support throughout the cancer journey.

Some of the key responsibilities of an oncology advanced practitioner include:

  • Educating patients about their cancer diagnosis, treatment options, and side effects management
  • Providing emotional support to patients and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis
  • Managing cancer-related symptoms and treatment side effects
  • Monitoring patients undergoing active cancer treatment
  • Coordinating patient care between multiple specialists
  • Prescribing medications related to cancer care such as chemotherapy drugs

To specialize in oncology, advanced practitioners must complete additional education and clinical training beyond their primary specialty certification. Some of the certifications available include:

  • Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP)
  • Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS)
  • Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN)

With increasing cancer prevalence and new treatment options, the demand for advanced oncology practitioners will remain high in the years to come. Their specialized expertise and compassionate care helps guide patients through the cancer journey.

Critical Care

Critical care advanced practice nurses provide care for critically ill patients in high acuity environments like intensive care units (ICU), emergency departments, and trauma centers. These nurses possess advanced assessment skills and are trained to monitor unstable patients, interpret diagnostic tests, operate complex medical equipment, and communicate with the healthcare team.

The critical care specialty requires registered nurses to complete accredited graduate-level education and training beyond their initial nursing degree. Critical care nurses must be able to make quick decisions under pressure and have specialized knowledge in complex conditions like sepsis, acute respiratory failure, diabetic ketoacidosis, neurological emergencies, and multi-system organ failure. Excelling in this field requires nurses to stay updated on evidence-based practices through continuing education and be comfortable managing teams, technology, and emerging research.


Cardiology is emerging as one of the top specialties for advanced practice nurses in 2024. With heart disease remaining the leading cause of death in the United States, the demand for cardiac care continues to grow.

Cardiologists play a crucial role in cardiac rehabilitation and prevention. They work to promote healthy lifestyles and help patients manage chronic conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol. Advanced practice nurses in this specialty have advanced assessment skills to detect heart abnormalities and risk factors. They can order and interpret diagnostic tests like EKGs, echocardiograms, and cardiac CT scans to diagnose heart disease.

Cardiac specialists also possess expertise in many cardiac procedures including cardiac catheterization, electrophysiology studies, and the implantation of pacemakers and defibrillators. Their ability to provide a full range of cardiac care makes advanced practice nurses well suited for cardiology. With an aging population and high rates of obesity, the need for cardiologists will increase in the coming years.


As physician assistants, we have the opportunity to pursue rewarding careers that allow us to make a meaningful difference in patients' lives. In this article, we explored some of the top specialty areas that are expected to see strong demand in the coming years.

The potential for job growth and competitive salaries makes specialties like emergency medicine, primary care, pediatrics, psychiatry, geriatrics, oncology, critical care, and cardiology particularly promising paths for PAs starting their careers. While every specialty comes with its own set of challenges, they all enable us to use our clinical knowledge and skills to provide high-quality care to our patients when they need it most.

For physician assistants just beginning their journeys, take time to reflect on which patient populations and medical issues inspire your passion. Reach out to practicing PAs in specialties that interest you to gain insight into a typical day on the job. And keep an open mind, as you never know which specialty will turn out to be the best fit once you obtain hands-on clinical experience.

No matter which specialty you ultimately choose, being a PA is a career filled with endless rewards. We have the privilege of using our expertise to make a difference, one patient at a time. If you feel a calling to become a provider and crave the diversity and challenges of healthcare, be empowered in the knowledge that the opportunities ahead are endless.

If you are looking for your next opportunity, check out our job board to find opportunities from leading healthcare organizations across the US.