Career Definition of an Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner
Ophthalmic nurse practitioners specialize in treating and diagnosing illness and injury relating to the eye. Patients suffering from various ailments affecting the eyes are an ophthalmic nurse's primary focus, which could mean assessing and identifying astigmatism, cataracts, glaucoma, and many other diseases or traumas. Ophthalmic nurse practitioners are specially trained in eye care, as well as broader nursing skills, such as recording symptoms, patient care, and medication education, for example. They are also able to write prescriptions. Ophthalmic nurse practitioners are typically employed in private practices and ophthalmologists' offices, though some may work in hospitals alongside a physician.
|Educational Requirements||Master's or doctoral degree|
|Job Skills||Diagnostic skills, communication, patient care, attention to detail|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$110,930 per year (Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners)|
|Job Outlook (2016-26)*||36% increase (Nurse Practitioners)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Ophthalmic nurses start their careers with an associate's or a bachelor's degree in nursing. To work as a registered nurse, they will also be required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam allows a nurse to start working in the field with patients and provides application of the knowledge gained in nursing school. Once a nurse has worked in ophthalmology for two years, the National Certification Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses offers a qualification as a Certified Registered Nurse in Ophthalmology (CRNO).
To become a nurse practitioner, a candidate will then be required to obtain at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, pass a certification exam, and then re-certify every five years. This recertification involves 1,000 hours of clinical practice and 75-150 hours of continuing education, depending on the certifying organization.
A nurse working in the field of ophthalmology will need strong interpersonal skills to interact with patients and colleagues, as well as good communication skills, to accurately describe a patient's condition. Strong attention to detail is also helpful for diagnostic purposes, as well as recording test results and monitoring charts. Because nurse practitioners are able to write prescriptions, a working knowledge of medications will be required, as well as specific knowledge of acute injuries and diseases affecting the eyes.
Career Outlook & Salary
In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median salary of $110,930 for all nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. The career path for these advanced practice nurses is expected to grow rapidly, due to more physicians taking more specialized paths. This leaves space for nurse practitioners to become primary care providers for more patients. The autonomy provided to a nurse practitioner, like being able to diagnose acute conditions and prescribe appropriate medications, also is attractive to nurses moving up the career path from registered nurses. The field of nurse practitioners is expected by the BLS to grow by 36% from 2016 to 2026.
Here are some links to related careers in the field of nursing and ophthalmology: