The Best San Diego Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements
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Nurse practitioners (NPs) provide many of the same services as physicians. For instance, NPs may diagnose patients, prescribe medicine, order tests, and advise patients on ways to avoid illness. These professionals often focus on areas like women's health, oncology, and acute care and may work under the guidance of a licensed physician. However, candidates must complete graduate degrees, such as a master's or doctorate in clinical nursing, and pass standardized tests to qualify for these careers.
NP positions allow candidates to improve others' quality of life more fully and independently than registered nurse opportunities.
NP positions allow candidates to improve others' quality of life more fully and independently than registered nurse (RN) opportunities. These careers also offer job security, particularly in California. Specifically, California delivers the second-highest employment level for NPs among states and offers higher average pay for NPs than any other state.
This page examines the process of becoming an NP in California, and more specifically, in San Diego. Our guide includes a look into the best nurse practitioner programs in San Diego, along with growth projections for NP positions and salary expectations for the city and surrounding areas.
Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in San Diego
San Diego residents who want to become NPs should complete the following steps.
- The California Board of Registered Nursing insists candidates earn RN licenses before becoming NPs. The board advises individuals to prepare for RN licensure while in high school by completing the state's pre-college curriculum.
- RN licensure calls for a nursing degree. Candidates must decide which program works best for their career goals. For instance, an associate degree qualifies individuals for an RN license, but a bachelor's can lead to administrative careers. Applicants with a non-nursing bachelor's can pursue a qualifying master's to earn an RN credential.
- The board advises candidates to submit RN license applications at least six weeks before earning their nursing degrees.
- RN candidates must undergo a criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting. The board accepts fingerprints submitted at California Live Scan locations or fingerprints delivered on cards. Candidates can complete this step after submitting RN license applications.
- The board requires RN candidates to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Test-takers must register for this exam after earning board approval and receiving an authorization to test. Individuals who do not earn board approval within one year must register again to take the NCLEX. Candidates must pay a $200 registration fee to take the NCLEX.
- After registering, individuals can take a practice exam to prepare for the NCLEX.
- The official NCLEX varies in structure but may include as many as 265 questions. Candidates have no more than six hours to complete the exam. Official scores may take six weeks to process and receive.
- The board may award residents an interim permit to practice before receiving official NCLEX scores, but only with supervision.
- The board awards an RN license to candidates who meet state requirements. At this point, individuals can focus on pursuing a nurse practitioner (NP) certification.
- Professionals must renew RN licenses by the end of the month after a licensed individual's birthday, every other year. This process requires 30 continuing education hours and a $190 fee.
- Candidates for the NP certification must finish a qualifying nursing program and earn a graduate degree in nursing. Applicants must list their specialization on applications. California residents should consider primary care, geriatrics, and acute care, since the state has a demand for these NPs. Applying for NP certification costs $500.
- NP certification applicants who graduated from programs outside of California must earn national certification from a recognized organization, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center. These certifications may require fieldwork, fees, and exams that relate to applicants' specializations.
- The board also awards NP certifications based on equivalency. This certification path requires clinical fieldwork.
- Individuals who want to prescribe medication should request an NP furnishing number. This authorization requires a pharmacology course.
- Renewing the NP certification requires $150. Renewing the furnishing number costs $162.
Featured Online MSN Programs
In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in San Diego
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGPCNP-BC)Years of Experience: The AGPCNP-BC mandates an RN license. Clinical Hours Required: Certification requires 500 hours of field experience. This fieldwork must include supervision and relate to gerontology. Continuing Education: Renewal occurs after five years and requires 75 continuing education hours. Other: Candidates must complete coursework on topics like pharmacology and health assessment and take a 175-question exam.
Gerontological Nursing Certification (RN-BC)Years of Experience: Applicants must work at least two years in RN positions. Clinical Hours Required: Candidates must complete at least 2,000 clinical hours related to gerontology and 30 continuing education hours. Continuing Education: Certifications last five years. Candidates must earn 75 continuing education hours for renewal. Other: Applicants must take a 175-question test in three and a half hours.
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC)Years of Experience: This certification calls for an RN license. Clinical Hours Required: Applicants must complete 500 clinical hours under supervision. Continuing Education: Renewal requires 75 continuing education hours every five years. Other: Certification exams include 200 questions that test-takers must complete in four hours.
Salary and Career Information
NPs in California take home mean annual wages of $133,780, which surpasses the state's annual mean wages for RNs by more than $26,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects career opportunities for California NPs to grow by over twice the rate of RN positions in the state from 2016-26.
Nationally, NPs also benefit from higher average pay and growth projections than RNs. These statistics verify a demand for NPs and reveal how financially lucrative these careers can be.
Mean annual wages in the San Diego-Carlsbad area for NPs ($121,670) are lower than the state's overall mean, along with averages for high-paying locations like Salinas and Modesto. The area's mean income, however, exceeds the national average for NPs.
|Registered Nurse||Nurse Practitioner|
|California Mean Salary||$106,950||$133,780|
|U.S. Mean Salary||$75,510||$110,030|
|California Job Growth||16.2%||35.1%|
|U.S. Job Growth||14.8%||36.1%|
Source: BLS, Projections Central
|San Diego - Carlsbad, California||$121,670||1,150|
|San Francisco - Oakland - Hayward, California||$150,790||2,100|
|Vallejo - Fairfield, California||$145,400||150|
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