Career Outcomes and Clinical Placements for Nurse Practitioners in California

Did you know that two nurse practitioners (NPs) with similar training and academic backgrounds can experience different career outcomes based on where they practice? Scope of practice, salary and availability of employment vary by geographic location, depending at least partly on state legislation and other context-specific factors, including the local economy and cost of living.

Scope of Practice in California

A nurse practitioner is recognized as a primary care provider in California. However, state practice and licensure law restricts an NP's scope of practice. This means that as a nurse practitioner in California, you will be limited in at least one area of your practice, the full range of which typically includes evaluating and diagnosing patients, ordering diagnostic tests, managing treatment plans, and prescribing medications.

To determine an NP's practice authority, the nurse practitioner and a supervising physician jointly develop the policies and protocols under which the NP will practice. This NP-physician agreement is also subject to guidelines from the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California and the Board of Registered Nursing.

California NPs may prescribe drugs and devices within their areas of practice, provided that they follow the protocols laid out in the NP-physician agreement. For prescriptions of Schedule II or III controlled substances, the physician must be involved.

Career Outcomes for California NPs

Nurse practitioners in California generally experience high average annual salaries and strong levels of employment. A California NP earns the highest average annual salary of NPs in any state at $124,330 per year — more than $65,000 above the annual mean wage for all occupations in the state. Additionally, California ranks second for NP employment with 12,740 practicing NPs.

The outlook for nurse practitioners across California is strong. However, these career outcomes differ from region to region.

Los Angeles

NPs practicing in the Los Angeles area earn among the highest salaries of NPs throughout California. The average annual NP salary is $130,290, which is over $5,000 higher than the California state average.

Los Angeles also boasts high employment of nurse practitioners. More than one-fifth (2,830) of California's NPs practice in the Los Angeles area specifically.

San Francisco

At $158,050 per year, San Francisco NPs earn the highest average salary of nurses anywhere in not only California but also the entire United States.

The NP employment level in the San Francisco area is also strong, with 880 of California's 12,740 NPs employed in the city and surrounding community.

San Diego

NPs practicing in the San Diego-Carlsbad region earn, on average, $112,520 annually, which is more than $57,000 higher than the average annual salary for all occupations in the area.

Although NP average salaries in this region are slightly lower than the California average for NPs, these nurse practitioners benefit from high employment. A total of 1,430 of California's 12,740 NPs practice in San Diego and the surrounding community.

Sacramento

Nurse practitioners employed in Sacramento earn an average annual salary of $112,520 — more than $57,000 above the overall average salary in the area.

Sacramento and the surrounding community employ 620 nurse practitioners, around 4.9 percent of California's total NP employment.

Fresno

Fresno NPs earn an average annual salary of $105,950. Compared to the average salary of all occupations in the Fresno area, NP salaries are around $60,000 higher.

A total of 460 of the 12,740 nurse practitioners in California are employed in Fresno. For reference, the Los Angeles area employs more than 2,800 NPs, while 620 of California's NPs work in Sacramento.

Clinical Placements in California

Through clinical placement experiences, Nursing@USC enables aspiring nurse practitioners to observe the NP-physician relationship firsthand and refine their own practice abilities. Nursing@USC students across California are able to learn in fast-paced, dynamic environments and benefit from the program's expansive network of health care professionals.

The Nursing@USC clinical placement team has established relationships with a number of medical professionals in California who mentor students in a variety of settings.

Los Angeles

Current number of preceptors in the Los Angeles area: 40

Kinds of clinical placement sites secured by Nursing@USC: private practices and hospitals

San Francisco

Current number of preceptors in the San Francisco area: 10

Kinds of clinical placement sites secured by Nursing@USC: private practices

San Diego

Current number of preceptors in the San Diego area: 17

Kinds of clinical placement sites secured by Nursing@USC: private practices

Sacramento

Current number of preceptors in the Sacramento area: 8

Kinds of clinical placement sites secured by Nursing@USC: private practices

Fresno

Current number of preceptors in Fresno: 2

Are you interested in advancing your career in health care? Learn more about earning your Master of Science in Nursing online with Nursing@USC today.

Sources:

  • https://www.aanp.org/legislation-regulation/state-legislation/state-practice-environment/66-legislation-regulation/state-practice-environment/1380-state-practice-by-type (2017)
  • https://www.allnursingschools.com/articles/nursing-salaries/
  • https://www.bls.gov/oes/2016/may/oes291171.htm (2016)
  • http://scopeofpracticepolicy.org/states/ca/ (2017)