If you want to become a certified nurse practitioner (NP), you will earn a very good salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a certified nurse practitioner can earn a median salary of over $80,000 per year. A NP can provide health care services that are very similar to those of a doctor. An NP also can specialize in pediatric, family or geriatric nursing. Some of the most common roles for an NP is to diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses, prescribe medications, and educate patients. An NP also can order many diagnostic tests and analyze many of the results.
Educational Requirements for NPs
To become a nurse practitioner, you need to earn your associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. By completing your undergraduate degree, you are prepared for an entry level job in a clinical setting. You also will meet state requirements to become licensed as a registered nurse.
If you earn your associate’s degree in nursing, it will take about two years to finish. The credit that you earn can usually transfer to your bachelor’s degree program later.
Colleges will offer several options for professionals who want to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing. These include a four year program, an accelerated bachelor’s program for people with associate degrees, and completion programs for professionals who already are licensed RNs. There also are some nursing degree programs that are offered online, although you will still need to complete clinical practice in your local area.
Anyone who wants to become an NP will need to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing so that they qualify for subsequent graduate degree study. Some of the most common subjects that you will study in nursing programs on the undergraduate level include anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.
Note: To become a successful NP, you need to be more than just a skilled clinician. It is a good idea for you also to take communications classes. To be a good NP, you really need to be very good at communicating both verbally and in writing. You need to be able to explain conditions and procedures clearly to patients. Also, if you hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, you can enter an accelerated master’s degree or bachelor’s program so you can finish your nursing degree in about 18 months.
Becoming an RN
Every state in the US will require you to become a registered nurse by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). There also may be additional registration and licensing requirements, and these can include fingerprints and a background check. Note that you must have an RN license before you can earn your graduate degree to become an NP.
Finishing Your Nursing Master’s Degree
After you have your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can qualify to become a nurse practitioner by either earning your master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. There are many NPs that decide to focus on a certain area of medicine, including, family medicine or pediatrics. In most cases, you will need to have about 2-3 years to finish one of these degree programs. You will need to take a full slate of course and also must finish your clinical residency. You will probably take classes in healthcare management, advanced pharmacology and pathophysiology.
Earn Your Advanced Practice Nursing License
To work as an advanced practice nurse, you will probably need to have additional licensing. An advanced practice nurse works as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife or clinical nurse specialist. The licensing process is handled by your state. However, any NP must have an RN license and a master’s degree in one of the four advanced specialties. There are some states that will require you to take extra tests and gain extra professional experience.
After you finish your degree and license requirements, you will then need to sit for certification exams that are related to your career path. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center are two of the organizations that provide national certification. To become certified, you will need to pass an examination and you will also have to meet continuing education requirements.