A nurse practitioner is essentially a special type of a nurse. Though the title includes the word – “nurse”, their duties are strikingly like that of a doctor. However, an NP lacks the autonomy and the authority that a doctor possesses. They start out as Registered Nurses who later get a master’s degree or a doctorate to join this field. So, let us see how to become a nurse practitioner.
The first step is to become a registered nurse. To do this you must earn a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree from any of the registered institutions. A diploma can work as well. However, they do not hold as much importance as the other two since some of the clinics and hospitals need you to have some clinical experience before applying for the job. This experience is provided by an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. After this, you must take a standardized national test and then get the license to practice as an RN. You could also try to take a different path and become a Licensed Practical Nurse first.
The next step is to earn a Bachelor’s degree. This is mostly for people who had earlier applied for a diploma or an associate’s degree. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is required. This will not only give you a more in-depth education in the medical world, but it will make you undergo a lot of clinical rounds. This is extremely important as experience plays a key role in any medical field. You may already have a bachelor’s degree while you were pursuing a career as Registered Nurse. In such cases, there are bridge programs from RN-BSN. The time duration of these programs varies. It will take more time if you are working while you are studying. There are also bridge courses from LPN-BSN.
As mentioned before, being experienced is key to getting into of the careers in the medical field. Getting a master’s degree after a bachelor’s degree might be the most efficient way of becoming an NP. However, many people already in the profession feel that this leaves you inadequately trained for the situations that you might face in life. Thus, they recommend you go through some training before applying for a graduate degree since some of the NP training programs also require you to have some prior experience. This training teaches you how to work with a team of medical professionals, how to work efficiently, how to tend to different patients and how to treat a variety of infections.
Getting a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is mandatory for becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Many programs accept RNs with a diploma or an associate’s degree. Other programs require the students to have a bachelor’s degree. Either way, the master’s degree includes spending time in both the classroom and the clinic. Students are often required to get a lot of work experience as an RN while they are learning to be an NP. You might also try to get a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree as an alternative.
Additionally, one can opt to get a Ph.D. in any of the specializations after the master’s degree. This will improve your credibility as a medical professional and improve your chances to earn a bit more. You can choose to specialize in fields like family care, gerontology or health systems.
State License and Certification
It is mandatory for an aspiring NP to get licensed by the state. Each state has a different list of licensing requirements. They publish a list of accepted programs and bachelor’s degree. To become a nurse practitioner, it is important for every candidate to have a valid RN license, a master’s degree in nursing and to pass the state licensure exam. The licensure exam differs depending on the specialization you are choosing. For example, you can apply at the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board or any other institution which is a subsidiary of American Nurses Association.
To revise, you first need to get an associate’s degree or a diploma to become a registered nurse. Then you must obtain a bachelor’s degree after which you move on to gain some experience. Finally, you acquire a master’s degree following which you get licensed after applying for the appropriate program. Now all you need to do is get started on the path to save as many lives as you can!