4 Reasons Why Nurse Practitioners Should Rethink Their Financial Security

Nurse practitioners have made a similar investment in their career and have work demands similar to doctors - it’s time they protect their income the same way, too. 

Nurse practitioners are an unsung hero in the medical field.

These highly trained professionals are often on the frontline of the healthcare system. On a given day they can be found performing physical exams, creating patient care plans, prescribing medications, ordering tests, and working alongside doctors.

Nurse practitioners provide immense value to their workplace, provide a high level of personalized care to patients, and are exposed to a wide array of health risks on their job. Despite this, nurse practitioners often don’t think about protecting themselves the same way their peers do.

For more than 10 years, Pattern has helped thousands of physicians and other medical specialists shop for true own-occupation disability insurance coverage. Along the way we’ve seen the role of nurse practitioners evolve, and along with it, the increasing need for them to protect their income.

Here are four reasons why nurse practitioners need to start thinking like physicians when it comes to protecting their financial future:

1. Student Loan Repayment

Student loan payments resumed in October 2023 after a three-year pause, which means millions of Americans now have to factor student debt back into their finances.

People in and outside of the medical field generally understand that physicians have high student debt and high salaries, but did you know nurse practitioners have a higher student loan debt-to-annual salary ratio than physicians?

Here is a quick side-by-side comparison using student loan debt data from Student Loan Planner and salary data on nurse practitioners and physicians from U.S. News & World Report:

Debt vs. Income

Nurse Practitioner


Average Student Debt



Average Salary



Avg. Debt : Avg. Salary

1.55 : 1

1.32 : 1

If a nurse practitioner and a physician both found themselves unable to work due to disability or illness, they would have a similarly difficult time repaying their student loans. One of the most important investments medical professionals – physicians and nurse practitioners alike – should protect is the one they’ve made in themselves.

2. Growing On-The-Job Safety Concerns

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) released a statement last year that it is deeply concerned about workplace violence. The statement cited a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that found there were 207 deaths due to workplace violence in the private health care and social assistance industries alone, and 1 in 5 nurses reported experiencing physical violence during the pandemic. 

In addition, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research review found that nursing roles can have short-and-long term health impacts, such as musculoskeletal injuries/disorders,, infections, changes in mental health, and in the longer term, cardiovascular, metabolic, and neoplastic diseases.

Having a disability insurance policy can replace your income if you became ill or injured and became unable to work because of something that happened on the job.

3. Increasing Stress From Emergency Settings 

A study published in 2022 found that whether they are working independently or seeing patients collaboratively with a physician, over 27,000 nurse practitioners and physician assistants currently work in US emergency departments. In addition, both roles have seen a rapidly growing number of patients in the emergency department setting, from 15  million visits in 2007 to over 40 million visits in 2016.

As emergency physicians are well aware, this much exposure to tense, fast-paced, and sometimes life-and-death situations can take a toll on your mental health. It’s no surprise that 65% of emergency physicians have reported being burned out.

Exposure to these situations are also a major reason why more than 2,000 emergency physicians have sought out Pattern to help them shop for disability insurance – they understand that life can change in an instant. Nurse practitioners should take this into consideration when thinking about whether to protect their income with disability insurance.

4. Increasing Demand For Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are in high demand.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics projects a 45 percent projected growth rate in the field by 2032, meaning more than 118,000 nurse practitioner jobs will need to be filled in the next 10 years. When demand for a specialty increases, salaries will typically increase with it. Having certain increase riders on a policy can help your coverage keep up with your salary.

Having an in-demand specialty could also mean leaving your current employer for a new one. Unlike the employer sponsored or “group” disability insurance plan that you may be on already, you can take your private, true own-occupation plan with you if you switch jobs, the benefit payouts aren’t taxable, and you can’t max out.

A true own-occupation disability insurance policy is the only type of plan that will pay out benefits if you are unable to perform the duties of your specialty, but can work a different job.

Get Covered

Put simply, nurse practitioners love what they do and the data backs it up. U.S. News & World Report ranked nurse practitioner No. 1 on its list of best healthcare jobs and No. 2 on its list of 100 best jobs in 2022 because of its growth opportunities, work-life balance, and salary.

As great as a job can be, you are often only one severe injury or illness away from losing a job you love and an income stream you’ve become accustomed to. Don’t leave your financial future to chance – submit a free quote request and Pattern will do the shopping for you. We’ll gather quotes from five major insurance companies and compare them for you side-by-side with no obligation to buy.