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Nurses in San Diego, California, are among the highest-paid in the country. Those who want to increase their earning potential and expand their scope of practice can enroll in a nurse practitioner (NP) program to become an advanced practice registered nurse. Designed for experienced nurses, these graduate-level programs award master's degrees and create a wealth of opportunities.
Our guide helps nurses find the best NP programs in San Diego. Explore program options and learn how to apply, what you can expect, and how to get the most from the experience.
We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best San Diego nurse practitioner programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.
Learn more about the key factors to consider when choosing a program, or go straight to our full ranking of the best San Diego nurse practitioner programs.
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How Do San Diego Nurse Practitioner Programs Work?
Nurse practitioner programs in San Diego build upon licensed nurses' knowledge and skills, preparing them to provide primary care, specialized care, and case management services for patients of every age. NP programs require applicants to select a specialization, such as pediatrics or women's health.
NP programs in San Diego combine classroom coursework with at least 500 hours of hands-on clinical experience. Students complete core courses in nursing concepts and specialization-focused courses and practicums. Graduates can take the nurse practitioner certification exam for their chosen specialty.
Most graduate students complete the NP program in about two years of full-time study. Programs typically accommodate working students, and you may be able to complete your practicum hours where you currently work.
Applying to a San Diego Nurse Practitioner Program
Nurse practitioner programs are designed for experienced nurses. The application process involves confirming your preparedness for advanced study with transcripts and documentation of your nursing experience. Showcase your goals and purpose for pursuing this path.
Application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, active California nursing license, minimum 6-12 months of clinical experience
3.0 or higher
Interviews for qualified applications after the initial application review
Why Is San Diego Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?
Choosing an accredited nurse practitioner program in San Diego is critical to your career success. Accreditation means an independent organization has reviewed the curriculum, instructors, and other factors to ensure it aligns with the basic standards for nursing education.
Employers typically prefer to hire nurses with degrees from accredited programs. Accreditation also ensures your eligibility for federal financial aid, state licensure, and the ability to transfer credits between programs. All programs in this ranking have received accreditation.
Learn More About the Best San Diego Nurse Practitioner Programs and Schools
Frequently Asked Questions About San Diego Nurse Practitioner Programs
How do I succeed in NP school?
Succeeding in an NP program requires many of the same strategies as any other educational program. Stay organized, ask questions, and identify the study methods that work best for you. Use your program's support sources and don't overlook the importance of networking with fellow students, instructors, and mentors.
What are one or two identified barriers to NP practice in California?
Until 2023, nurse practitioners in California were required to practice under physician supervision. Beginning this year, qualified NPs can apply to practice in designated facilities without physician supervision, eventually transitioning into independent practice after three years or 4,600 hours. This shift will eventually eliminate the most significant barrier to NP practice in the state.
Which type of nurse practitioners make the most money?
Nurse anesthetists earn the highest salaries among all advanced practice nurses, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting an annual median wage of $195,610 nationally. According to PayScale, psychiatric NPs also top the highest-paid list, with an annual salary of $115,320, as well as neonatal NPs, with annual salaries of about $114,270.
What is the hardest NP specialty?
Everyone has their own interests and strengths, making it impossible to state with certainty which NP specialty is the most difficult. Each specialty includes challenges, and some students may find the work in one area more difficult than others. Choosing a program that aligns with your goals and skills ensures you get the most from the experience.
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