Nurse practitioners with advanced training are in high demand and are paid well. This manual outlines the steps of becoming an NP, including the prerequisites for nurse practitioner programs. Now let’s discuss in details on how to become a nurse practitioner.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) have more responsibility and authority than registered nurses and carry out many of the same tasks as doctors (RNs).
This article gives you exquisite knowledge on how to become a nursing practitioner, and what nurse practitioners do while exploring the possible areas of specialization and employment settings open to NPs.
Who Is a Nurse Practitioner?
NPs have completed post-graduate education in a specific subspecialty of nursing, such as geriatrics, neonatology, pediatrics, psychiatry, or women’s health.
Nurse practitioners work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, and community health centers, providing patients with both primary care and specialty care.
An RN’s earning power and prospects for professional growth can both benefit from further education in the form of a master’s degree in nursing (or “nurse practitioner”).
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Graduates of the six-year master’s program required to become nurse practitioners said they are glad they invested in their education.
What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner
NPs frequently begin as registered nurses with a minimum of five years of clinical experience.
Prospective NPs must submit an application to a particular program after starting their master’s or doctoral studies.
Graduates who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in their state must pass a national certification exam in that field.
The specifics of NP education vary depending on program options and concentration areas, however, most applicants finish the following steps.
1. Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN) Degree.
Getting a BSN is the first requirement for becoming a nurse practitioner. It takes four years to complete a traditional BSN, which includes general education requirements, nursing-specific coursework, and clinical training.
ADN holders with RN licenses can enroll in RN-to-BSN bridge programs and graduate with a BSN very quickly.
For those with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing who want to earn a BSN, there are other fast-track options.
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam.
To become licensed, prospective RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN). Up to 145 questions make up the adaptive computer exam, which adjusts its length and difficulty level based on the test taker’s performance.
3. Get an RN Experience.
Before acceptance, most graduate schools demand 1-2 years of clinical experience. In order to choose their future NP focus, RNs might also use this time to investigate specializations.
4. Register in a Nursing Graduate Program.
At this time, becoming an NP requires a minimum of a master of science in nursing (MSN). But earning a doctorate in nursing practice has many benefits.
By 2025, a DNP is required to practice as an APRN. An MSN will still do for the time being. DNPs have a greater potential for income and more employment options.
DNPs require 3-6 years to complete, while MSN programs are only one to two years long. Students must concentrate on a population specialty for both degree paths.
5. Obtain a Specialty Certification and NP Licensure.
NPs acquire APRN licensure. All jurisdictions demand a passing score on a national board certification exam in the applicant’s specialty field, such as critical care, family nurse practitioner, pediatrics, or women’s health, despite the fact that some licensure requirements may differ by state.
The demanding tests, which are given by approved certifying agencies, assess general advanced practice nursing ability and knowledge of specialty populations.
Exams can only be registered for by candidates in the fields in which they have degrees.
6. Get Employed
NPs can work in many different places. Hospital outpatient units, hospital inpatient units, private physician practices, and urgent care clinics are some of the best places to work.
NPs also work in emergency rooms, federally qualified health centers, corporate clinics, rural health clinics, and community health centers.
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Many hospitals have paid fellowship programs for nurse practitioners that let them try out different specialties which could lead to a job offer in the end. As a new graduate, these fellowships are a great way to get your foot in the door of the NP job market.
Nurse Practitioner Requirements By Degree Type
1. Associate Degree in Nursing
An RN license is frequently necessary for NP programs for persons with an associate’s degree in nursing.
While specific school requirements vary, applicants typically need a GPA of 3.0 or better.
GRE test results, recommendation letters, official transcripts, a finished application, and a statement of purpose are examples of other admissions materials.
Students can also look into RN-to-NP bridge programs and ADN-to-NP bridge programs, which enable them to complete degree requirements more quickly.
2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Numerous colleges and institutions offer BSN-to-NP programs, which call for applicants to also have a BSN. While admission standards differ amongst colleges, candidates might anticipate some programmatic similarities.
Applicants for the BSN program must submit a completed application and their official high school transcripts. Most colleges require applicants to have a minimum GPA, which is frequently between 2.5 and 3.0.
Letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and ACT or SAT test results are among additional admissions requirements.
Some degree-seeking programs demand that applicants show they have at least one year of prior nursing experience, however many BSN holders enter NP programs without initially working as RNs.
Aside from that, it’s common for students to complete their clinical hours close to where they live while also earning their degree online.
3. Master of Science in Nursing
Prospective NPs can fulfill the educational requirements for their state by obtaining an MSN or a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP). About two years are needed to complete an MSN program.
Candidates for the MSN degree can benefit from a range of online program options, which give students the flexibility they need to keep working while pursuing their degree.
After graduating from an online school, students have the option to apply for national certification, start working as NPs, or enroll in a DNP program.
4. MSN-to-DNP program
Many nurses enroll in DNP programs in order to increase their career options. Some colleges and universities provide MSN to DNP programs that let applicants pursue an advanced degree quickly.
Students in these programs take a lot less time to complete their doctoral degrees than those with only a bachelor’s or associate’s degree because they already have a master’s.
Candidates for the MSN-to-DNP program frequently finish their coursework in just one year. The majority of curricula include 500 hours of supervised clinical experience and 30 to 40 credits of coursework.
How Much Will a Nurse Practitioner Degree Cost?
The cost of attending nurse practitioner schools varies greatly. The type of college (public or private), residency status (in-state or out-of-state), degree level (MSN, DNP, or postgraduate certificate), and program length all have an impact on price.
Other factors to take into account include credit requirements, program mode (online or in-person), and school reputation.
Candidates for nurse practitioners may have to pay between $30,000 and $98,000 in tuition.
The cost of attending a public university and paying in-state tuition is frequently less expensive than going to a private university and paying out-of-state costs.
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Prospective students should factor in additional expenses like housing, travel, books, and tech-related costs that they might have during their studies.
There are several ways to pay for a nurse practitioner degree, including loans, grants, fellowships, and scholarships.
Students who major in nursing can also apply for loan forgiveness schemes. For RNs pursuing MSN/DNP programs, many larger medical centers connected to nursing schools will also offer tuition reimbursement.
Summary On How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Students who want to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner should pick a university that offers the prerequisite courses needed to get a master’s degree, which is a minimal level of education.
Reputable bodies like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, must accredit the institution offering the program (NLNAC).
The prerequisites for nurse practitioner master’s degree programs differ per institution, so prospective students must ascertain the kinds of certificates, undergraduate degrees, and exams needed to apply.