Nurse Practitioner Career Path
How To Become a Nurse PractitionerNurse practitioners diagnose medical issues, prescribe medications, develop treatment plans, and work closely with other medical professionals. If you are a good problem solver and enjoy working with people, the nurse practitioner role may be for you. In this article, we discuss the eight steps required to become a nurse practitioner:
Earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN).
Anyone interested in becoming a nurse practitioner must earn a bachelor of science in nursing. There are three paths to earning a BSN:
- College/University: Attend a traditional four-year college or university and graduate with a BSN.
- Accelerated BSN: If you have an undergraduate degree in another field, you can apply for an accelerated BSN program. In addition to the prerequisite science coursework, you can expect to spend two years completing an accelerated BSN.
- RN-BSN: Nurses with an Associate degree in nursing (ADN) can attend a Registered Nurse BSN program. Programs vary in length.
What type of degree should you pursue to become a Nurse Practitioner?
83% of people working as a Nurse Practitioner earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be a Nurse Practitioner?
- Excellent Communication
- Computer Literacy
- Written Communication
Pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX).
After earning your BSN degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). After passing the national board certification exam, you can apply for a state nursing license.
Gain work experience through nursing.
Although you can go straight from your BSN into an MSN program, many professional nursing organizations recommend working as a registered nurse for several years first. This work experience allows you to decide on a specialty area and gain valuable hands-on experience. You can then find nurse practitioner jobs through your local job boards, college job fairs, and academic advisors.
Earn advanced degrees.
A master of science in nursing (MSN) is the minimum requirement to work as a nurse practitioner. An MSN program takes 18 months to two years to complete. You can also pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree, which requires an additional two to three years of study. During advanced degree programs, nurse practitioners typically specialize in a particular patient population. Nurse practitioners can specialize in several areas, including cardiac care, pediatrics, oncology, women's health, and psychiatry.
Pass a national nurse practitioner (NP) certification board exam.
All prospective nurse practitioners must take a certification exam after completion of their graduate program. The two organizations that offer certification exams are the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Once you have passed your certification exam, apply to your state licensing board to receive your NP license. Requirements vary from state to state.
Complete continuing education requirements.
Nurse practitioners must complete continuing education credits to keep their certification active. Requirements vary by state and by certification type, but most need renewing every three to five years.
Nurse Practitioner Career Path
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