Youll Make Even More Of A Difference
Few career paths give you the chance to have such a positive impact on the lives of others. No matter what nursing specialty you choose to pursue or how far you choose to advance your career caring for the injured, sick, and dying is part of your job description. Any shift you work could see you improving or potentially saving the lives of your patients.
As a nurse practitioner, youll have even more of a chance to make a difference in your patients lives. With their advanced clinical training and expertise, nurse practitioners have the authority to diagnose illnesses, treat conditions, provide evidence-based health education, and in some states, prescribe medications.
Take These Steps To Become A Nurse Practitioner:
Important: you cannot become a nurse practitioner without first earning an MSN degree. You will need to fully commit to a graduate-level education to become a nurse practitioner.
Whether you have never taken a nursing class, or you have already earned an MSN and currently work as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse , there is an NP pathway for you. We exist to help you discover your best path and find enduring career success as a nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Scope Of Practice By State
Kaiser Health News reports that Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington were the first states to offer expanded scope of practice NPs in the 1980s more rural states, mainly those with physician shortages, followed in the 1990s.
Note: The following scope of practice designations are accurate as of April 28, 2021.
Earn A Graduate Degree
Along with the FNP specialty, students in MSN and DNP programs can choose from other role specialties, depending on the universitys offerings. Popular specialties include nurse educator, nurse executive, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner , adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner , pediatric nurse practitioner , and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner .
- Master of Science in Nursing: An MSN is an advanced nursing degree that opens doors to prestigious positions in the field. An MSN-FNP is a sufficient qualification for becoming a nurse practitioner. A full-time MSN program with an FNP role specialty typically takes 2-3 years to complete.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice: A DNP-FNP provides more coursework on leadership and research for nurse practitioners who aspire to lead in these areas. A full-time program typically takes 34 years, depending on specialty, with the FNP specialty typically taking about 4 years.
Practicing Nursing Without A License
Along with doctors, attorneys, dentists, veterinarians, and other professionals, all states require anyone wishing to be a nurse to first obtain a state license. If you engage in nursing without that license, you commit the crime of practicing nursing without a license. There are slight differences in how states punish practicing nursing without a license, though they all cover the same general type of conduct. Some states punish practicing nursing without a license under the broader category of practicing medicine without a license, while other states may have specific laws that apply to nursing.
What Is The Process For Acquiring A Dea Registration Number From The Drug Enforcement Administration
To apply for a registration number or for registration support, please visit the DEA Office of Diversion Control website at: Registration numbers are linked to state licenses and may be suspended or revoked upon any disciplinary action taken against a licensee.
Earn A Bachelors Degree In Nursing
The first step to becoming a nurse practitioner is to earn a bachelors degree. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is recommended, given that some graduate-level programs, such as the one offered by the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, require an undergraduate degree in nursing rather than in a related field such as public health. The core curriculum of a BSN program includes courses in anatomy, pharmacology, mental health, pathophysiology, statistics, and more.
The BSN degree also requires that students complete clinical training hourstypically, three clinical learning hours for every one hour of classroom instruction. Depending on your background and personal situation, you can take various paths to accomplish this:
Get Your RN License
In order to practice nursing and/or enter a graduate nursing program, you must first obtain your licensure as an RN by applying to the appropriate nursing regulatory body and successfully completing the NCLEX-RN examination, as well as meeting any other requirements of the state in which you intend to practice. To sit for the exam, you must have completed an associate degree in nursing, a hospital-based diploma program, or your BSN.
Gain Valuable Work Experience
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Earn A Nurse Practitioner Certificate
When youve completed one year of experience, you will become eligible for enrollment to earn certification as an advanced practice nurse .
Every certificate program varies, but you can reasonably expect to complete about 13 credits of graduate coursework , to earn your certificate.
To earn the certification, you will also need to complete a preceptorship. This immersive experience involves working under a nurse practitioner in a clinical setting.
Where Can Nurse Practitioners Work Without Physician Supervision
Since the inception of the first nurse practitioner education program in 1965, men and women in the profession have experienced great success and heated opposition. Physician organizations have openly opposed the use of nurse practitioners as primary care providers, claiming that educational gaps render NPs unsafe and unqualified to care for patients independently.
Even though the decades-old debate continues, research has proven time and again that nurse practitioners are indispensable primary care providers with the ability to treat a wide variety of conditions. Moreover, the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that 58 million Americans live in areas in which the supply of primary care physicians doesnt meet federal standards with the appropriate ratio of providers to patients. The gap is widening as legislation expands access to medical care, and the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the physician shortage could reach up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. Nurse practitioners are gaining independence and establishing autonomy as they provide medical care without the oversight or management of a physician.
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Nurse Practitioner Licensing And Credentialing
After being certified either through the ANCC or the AANP, you can apply for state licensure within your specific states in which you intend to practice. The steps involved here are state-dependent, but a quick Nurse practitioner license in should be able to illuminate the next steps.
Even so, this process can be confusing so I have another article outlining these steps which outlines your license, as well as additional necessities like an NPI number or your DEA. Once licensed, you need to get a job within your scope of practice. Once hired, your job will need to credential you. This basically involves background checks and a lot of paperwork being filed with insurance companies. This must be done before you can start practicing as an NP at their clinical site. Be warned this can take 3-6 months! In 2018 I was hired in February and wasnt able to start until July for my first NP job.
On average, the Nurse Practitioner education and training can take a minimum of 6 years to complete, although most will take longer if they obtain more RN experience first or if they attend a part-time track. And just like that you can be a nurse practitioner too! Its a long and difficult road, but definitely doable. And I can personally tell you that it is 1000% worth it. If you find yourself wondering how to become a nurse practitioner this might just be the perfect career for you!
How To Become A Nurse Practitioner: Np Specialties
When you are ready to start your NP education, you can apply and get into a nurse practitioner program of your desired specialty. Unlike PA programs that train generalists, NP programs are population-specific. This means that you have to apply to a specific patient-population specialty. This helps your education be tailored to the patients that you will be seeing in your future NP job. Nurse practitioner specialties include:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric Mental health Nurse Practitioner
- Womens Health Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
The difference between each specialty is an entirely different article, but which one you choose will depend on which clinical setting you plan to practice in one day. If you want to work with adults within the hospital obtain your AGACNP. If you want to work in a primary care office get your FNP or AGACNP depending on which ages you want to see. Understand that some specialties are somewhat flexible, and many facilities will hire an FNP or AGPCNP for both inpatient and outpatient roles, as well as within the ED.
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Becoming An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Acute care nurse practitioners are required to complete an advanced-practice program to earn either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in nursing . A bachelor of science degree is required for admission to a graduate program. It can take two years for a BSN-educated nurse to earn a master’s degree, and three to four years to obtain a doctoral degree.
Many graduate programs offer online learning, which is helpful for many nurses. Benefits of online learning include:
- More flexibility
- Self-paced learning
Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners cites two key schooling requirements for NPs. A candidate must hold at least a bachelor of science in nursing to enter graduate-level NP school. Secondly, candidates must complete a general or specialized master of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice degree.
An MSN is the minimum education needed to qualify for NP licensure. However, organizations like the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses advocate for the DNP designation to become the new standard for APRNs. Therefore, prospective NPs may avoid the need to upgrade their credentials in the future by opting for a DNP instead of an MSN.
Notably, multiple nursing schools offer BSN-to-DNP programs that allow students entering with a bachelorâs degree to graduate with terminal credentials. These programs generally demand a greater time commitment, but they also maximize studentsâ career potential since they culminate in the highest degree designation.
Meanwhile, experienced RNs seeking quick advancement may find more value in accelerated MSN programs. The links below detail the various educational paths a student can follow to earn the educational credentials needed for NP licensure.
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Obtain Licensure In Your State
Note the difference between being licensed and certified: becoming certified shows employers you are capable of practicing as an NP, while licensure determines if you are legally allowed to practice in your state of residence.
Each state has their own requirements for licensure as an advanced practice nurse. You will need to find the requirements as well as the current process for licensure, which can be found on your states board of nursing website.
Keep in mind employers may require board certification before hiring a nurse practitioner even if practicing without certification is legally permissible in your state.
Earn A Bachelor Of Science In Nursing Degree Degree
The first step toward becoming an NP entails earning a BSN. Traditional BSNs take four years to complete and include general education and nursing-specific coursework, along with hands-on clinical training.
Associate degree in nursing -holders with RN licenses may enroll in RN-to-BSN bridge programs and quickly earn a BSN. Other fast-track options exist for those with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees who wish to earn a BSN.
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Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
If you dont already hold a BSN, you may want to enroll in and earn your Bachelors in Nursing Science degree. Nurses who have their ADN can enroll in accelerated RN-BSN programs, many of which can be completed online. It is possible to go straight from your ADN to an MSN program if you want to skip the step of earning your Bachelor’s degree, however.
Pass Your Board Certification Exam
Once you successfully graduate from your NP program, you are eligible for national certification as a nurse practitioner. To be certified, you must first pass a board-certification exam. Depending on your specialty, these are offered through the AANP or the ANCC.
Once you take your exam and pass, you are officially a nationally board-certified nurse practitioner. BUT you cant start working yet.
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Myth: My State Doesnt Require National Certification To Get An Np License So I Dont Need To Take The Np Boards
Reality: Only California and New York allow NPs to practice without certification. Interestingly, these states are among the top in the nation for number of NPs. Even in California and New York, the days of practicing without certification are past because virtually all third-party insurers and NP employers require certification. The result is that many non-certified NPs are now seeking the same documentation of professional achievement as the nations certified NPs.
Not having NP certification is quite professionally limiting. Without certification, moving from state to state and continuing to practice can be difficult or impossible. In addition, since most employers require certification, changing jobs can be challenging. As additional specialty certifications become available, likely employers will require this further documentation of clinical expertise. For example, an increasing number of employers require FNPs who practice in emergency care to acquire and maintain emergency NP certification. Fitzgerald offers certification exam prep courses and resources for the following NP specialties:
Obtain Certifications Your Practice Requires
If you want to open a medical spa, getting certifications will allow you to provide various services and attract more clients. Jules suggests getting the certifications your practice is going to require.
“For myself, we decided to do intravenous hydration, so I undertook certifications in IVs and injectables,” Jules says.
Build as much outside knowledge as you can to bring value to your clients and wealth into your practice.
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How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse Practitioner
While the number of years it takes to become an NP varies, its possible to estimate the time invested in each stage of the journey.
BSN programs typically take four years to complete, but as weve seen, by leveraging prior college credit, its possible to earn the degree in as few as 16 months through an ABSN track such as the one CTX offers.
Then, as mentioned above, once you earn your BSN, youll need to earn a graduate-level nursing degree. Some graduate programs require one to two years of work experience as an RN prior to admittance.
From there, MSN programs can take as little as one year to complete, but one to two years is the norm. The exact timeframe varies by specialty, educational background, and enrollment status.
While full-time students can generally complete a DNP in three to four years, many students attend school part-time while working. Most schools require DNP completion within six to seven years.
In sum, fulfilling all the necessary requirements to become an NP can take between five and 15 years, depending on academic background and other factors.
Enroll In A Masters Degree Or Post Masters Certificate Program
Once youve chosen your specialty, its time to choose from available nurse practitioner programs concentrating in that specialty. Look for an accredited school with an established track record of success in helping students pass exams and boards expediently.
All of our program options for nurse practitioners are CCNE accredited1, designed to offer many different potential entry points into an NP career path:
Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Each concentration offers BSN to MSN-NP, RN to MSN-NP, or MSN to NP pathways. You can potentially transfer prior college credit into any of our programs to decrease both time and cost.
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We Pledge Your Clinical Placement
No matter the NP specialty you choose, clinicals are vitally important to your education and career success. Choose a nursing school dedicated to your success in securing clinicals.
Enroll in any of our nurse practitioner program options and we pledge your clinical placement through following our Clinical Guidance Process.
While we encourage you to find your own preceptor and clinical sites, we provide extensive support through our Clinical Guidance Process should you find difficulty.i With Herzing, you are never on your own.
i. Subject to terms and conditions outlined in the enrollment agreement.
Classes Start May 9th
Do I Have To Take A Certification Exam To Be A Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who have education and specialized training that qualifies them to work alongside and assist physicians in treating patients. An important part of this specialized training is passing certification exams. Read below to understand the steps it takes to become a licensed nurse practitioner.
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Reach Greater Career Heights As An Np
No matter who you are, what education youve earned, or where youre working today, your career as a nurse practitioner is possible.
U.S. News and World report ranks nurse practitioner as the #1 best healthcare job and #2 best job overall in 2022, due to its high marks in terms of salary, job market, and future growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nurse practitioners is expected to rise 52% from 2020-2030, representing one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States.*
Walk this growing career path to advance your skills in nursing practice, compete for a higher salary, and take your career to the next level.