What Are Common Misconceptions About Nurse Practitioners
While nursing is a respected profession, its also a diverse one. With the different nursing specialties and certifications available, its not surprising that the public isnt always sure about the finer points of the role.
Some common misconceptions about nurse practitioners include:
- That they need to work during the times a physician is present
- That they cant work independently
- That they cant see their own patients and have their own caseloads
- That they are not able to prescribe medications
- That they cannot diagnose a patient with a health concern
None of these are true, especially if a nurse practitioner is in a state where they can practice to the fullest extent of their license. Nurse practitioners can put their training, education and expertise to use seeing patients, managing their own caseloads, prescribing medications and diagnosing patients.
More than that, they can work collaboratively with patients and the entire healthcare team to create a treatment plan. Its important for their patients to feel comfortable with their treatment, so they stick with it and find success. That often involves an explanation of the details in a way the patients can understand.
Choose The Right Dnp Concentration For Your Dnp Degree
If obtaining a DNP degree is your preferred choice for meeting the NP graduate education requirement, it is important to understand how this compares with the MSN option already discussed.
The DNP is a post-BSN or post-MSN medical practice degree. This means that it includes advanced training in specific nursing skills and disciplines for use in the field. Some NPs with DNP degrees move on to health leadership roles. Others specialize in a specific area of focus, similar to NPs with an MSN. Since the DNP degree is recommended as the graduate degree for advanced nursing practice by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing , it can be a suitable option for nurses interested in advancing in their careers.
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Three: Earn A Graduate Degree
The next nurse practitioner education requirement is an advanced degree in nursing. In fact, more than 98% of NPs have graduate degrees. Main types of advanced degrees are:
- Master of Science Degree in Nursing : MSN programs are generally a two-year commitment. Not only will you earn your graduate degree, but you will also be trained in a specialty of your choosing.
- Indiana State University
Graduate NP programs require applicants to have an active RN license and to have passed the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses. In addition, many of the programs require professional RN experience. And even if it isnt a requirement, you will have an advantage over other candidates if you have worked as an RN and they have not.
Whats The Bottom Line About Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners are a lot like superheroes. They can do it all: treat and diagnose patients, inform and influence public policy, serve as preceptors, educate patients, improve the health of individuals and communities, and the list goes on and on. Nurse practitioners are well-rounded, professional and caring. And the career potential as a nurse practitioner has never looked brighter.
If you are considering a career in nursing or are an RN interested in taking the next step in your career, the option to become a nurse practitioner can provide endless opportunities to learn and grow within the profession and to help the greater community around you.
*Carte’s credentials stand for: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner-Certified and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse .
**Dixon’s credentials stand for: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse , Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified .
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Certifications For Popular Specializations
The type of NP certification you earn will vary depending on your specialty or subspecialty. Here are examples of some popular NP specialties and the certifications you can pursue:
- Family Nurse Practitioner Certification , offered by the ANCC
- Family Nurse Practitioner certification, offered by the AANPCB
Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care , offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
Do Credentials Differ By State
All nurse practitioners must pass an exam that leads to a national certification. While credentials are awarded by a national organization, its important to note that licensing varies by state. At SNHU, we teach to the highest-level national standards, said Dr. Jequie Dixon, APRN, AGACNP-BC, clinical coordinator of MSN programs at SNHU.** That way, nurses who graduate from our nurse practitioner program have the knowledge and skills needed to begin a new career” and become nurse practitioners who are well-trained and ready to work.
Some states allow nurse practitioners to practice independently. Others require them to work under the oversight of a physician. Every state can set its standards for licensure in terms of clinical hours and type of training needed beyond the masters degree as well as for continuing education and national certification.
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Education Requirements For Nurse Practitioners
To become a nurse practitioner, an individual must meet the following requirements.
- Must be a licensed registered nurse
- Must earn a masters degree from an accredited school
- Must specialize in one area of nursing
- Must pass a certification exam
- Must earn a license specifically related to APRNs
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Nurse practitioners can obtain certification from several different agencies, such as the American Nursing Credentialing Center, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to having a masters degree, nurse practitioners are board-certified in at least one area of nursing specialty. These are just a few of the many specialties a nurse practitioner can choose:
- Pediatric nursing
Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median annual salaries for nurse practitioners and related professionals.
|Nurse Practitioners, Residential Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities||$123,760|
|Nurse Practitioners, Outpatient Care Centers||$118,020|
|Nurse Practitioners, General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$117,080|
|Nurse Practitioners, Offices of Other Health Practitioners||$109,200|
|Nurse Practitioners, Offices of Physicians||$108,430|
|Nurse Practitioners, Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$107,660|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$104,280|
|Nursing Instructors and Postsecondary Teachers||$75,470|
The most common industries in which nurse practitioners are employed include hospitals, outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, offices of other health practitioners, and educational services.
Nurse practitioners can have many different types of work environments. For instance, a family practice nurse practitioner at a physicians office might work regular daytime hours, while a nurse practitioner at a hospital may work night shifts.
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What Does A Nurse Practitioner Do
A nurse practitioner is a licensed medical professional who has the highest level of responsibility and treatment power in the nursing field. Nurse practitioners may examine patients, provide diagnoses, prescribe medication and treatment, and other duties.
These professionals have similar medical abilities to physicians and are considered to have full practice authority in 20 U.S. states. This authority means that the nurse practitioners in these states do not require a doctor’s supervision to practice. In the remaining states of the nation, nurse practitioners must have the supervision of a doctor to practice, but they still have more authority than other types of nurses.
The exact duties of a nurse practitioner are dependent on their specialization and place of work. A nurse practitioner may focus on the following common specialties:
Work as part of a healthcare team to provide comprehensive patient care
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The Dominican College Advantage
The MS FNP Program at Dominican College, is designed for working nurses like you. The flexible class and clinical schedule allows you to work at your own pace, and the expert staff and clinical sites prepare you to provide the highest level of advanced nursing care.
- Keep Working: Our weekday evening classes are designed to allow you to pursue your MS degree while working full-time.
- Flexible Workload: Take classes two nights a week every semester, and graduate in 24 months. Or, take one course per semester, and take up to five years to complete your degree.
- Flexible Tuition: Competitive rates, with an option to defer payment until the end of the term.
- Flexible Learning: Some courses are offered as hybrids of classroom and online studies,
- Top Faculty and Clinical Placements: Learn from expert practicing advanced nurses. Clinical placements are available at many top locations, representing different specialties.
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Popular Nurse Practitioner Courses
Courses vary among the best NP schools, but most programs require core and elective classes, along with clinical/practicum hours. Degree level and specialization will influence coursework.
An NP curriculum usually covers advanced health evaluation, nursing ethics, advanced pharmacology, and issues in healthcare policy. Below, we describe five common courses for nurse practitioner students.
Do I Need A Doctorate Degree To Be A Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners are a much-needed part of the healthcare industry and many ask the question, Do I need a doctorate degree to be a nurse practitioner? Nurse practitioners are highly-trained Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who organize patient care and provide primary care to patients. APRNs who earn doctorate degrees have chosen to take the education and training to the highest level, and there are some positions that may require a doctorate degree. Here is some helpful information on nurse practitioners, including degree levels.
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Next Steps To Become An Np
Nurse practitioners help patients in need of care. As an NP, you will have numerous options and opportunities to perform this rewarding work in the health care setting to which you feel called, whether that is teaching at a college or university, leading a department at a hospital, running clinical trials for a new life-saving drug, or working in public health to serve your community.
Education And Training Requirements To Become A Nurse Practitioner
As noted previously, an MSN degree is the minimum requirement to become a nurse practitioner. However, some candidates choose to pursue a DNP, either as the initial path to meeting the educational and training requirements to become an NP or as additional education beyond the MSN. Both are popular options to meet NP education requirements, with many MSN programs available and the number of DNP programs growing.
When you are researching MSN programs, it is important to find one that offers your preferred area of focus. To determine the right specialty for you, consider the following tips:
- Gain clinical experience to help you determine which area may be a good fit.
- Understand the education and certification requirements for the specialty you desire.
- Research salary and work settings for various specialty areas.
- Talk to NPs who work in various specialties to better understand their roles.
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Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
A pediatric acute care nurse practitioner provides care to newborns and children up to 21 years old who are acutely, critically or chronically ill. Their expertise is needed in community agencies, hospitals, pediatric emergency departments and pediatric intensive care units, among other settings. They work with patients, families, healthcare professionals and multidisciplinary ethics communities. With the guidance of a pediatric acute care NP, children and their families may be able to better prepare for sensitive lifecycle moments and treatment milestones.
Achieve State License And Certification
Every state requires that nurse practitioners be licensed. Since the Board of Nursing in each state governs the specific licensing requirements, it is important to know what the requirements are before starting your education and training. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides contact information for each state BON across the United States, where specific licensure requirements can be obtained.
In addition to RN licensure and a graduate degree from an accredited institution, NP candidates are typically required to have a certain number of supervised clinical hours. How much time will be needed to achieve licensure and certification? That will vary depending upon completion of eligibility requirement, the specific examination schedules of each certifying body, and the amount of time needed for a candidate to prepare for the certifying exam.
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Types Of Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioner licenses offer many specialties. Once core classes are completed during your MSN program, you may branch off into the specialty of your choice. Usually, when you apply for NP school you also apply for the specialty at the same time. This is because some specialties may require clinical experience in that area, such as pediatrics or maternal health. The different types of NP specialties include:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Practitioner
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Womens Health Nurse Practitioner
After earning your BSN degree, most MSN-NP programs take 2-4 years to complete depending on the number of classes you complete each semester. Some online programs offer rolling start dates which allow classes to be completed in 8 weeks instead of the traditional 16-week semesters.
Should I Become A Nurse Practitioner
Prospective nurse practitioners should evaluate whether the role matches their personal and professional goals. Experienced RNs with BSNs typically need to pursue an additional 2-4 years of education to acquire the necessary degrees and certifications. Nurse practitioners also carry more responsibility than RNs, which can cause stress.
With this increased responsibility comes higher pay. As of May 2020, the BLS reports a median annual salary of $75,330 per year for RNs, while APRNs earned $117,670. Over a 25-year career, that can translate to more than $1 million in additional earning potential at current rates.
Aspiring nurse practitioners must display high levels of drive and commitment to succeed. As such, becoming a nurse practitioner generally appeals to ambitious RNs seeking to advance to their professionâs highest level.
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Ways To Grow Professionally
- Volunteer to treat patients in underserved communities. This is a great way to grow your skills, learn from professionals across disciplines, and make a real difference.
- Attend events and conferences to expand your knowledge and network with your peers.
- Find a mentor you can learn from and who inspires you to grow as a professional.
Where Can Nurse Practitioners Work
Since nurse practitioners are needed across all populations, the profession offers several work environments to consider when choosing your path. A nurse practitioner can pursue a career in a variety of settings, including private practice, group practice or urgent care, to name just a few, Carte said. Other opportunities for a nurse practitioner can include roles in clinics, academia and leadership.
Because nurse practitioners treat every population, they are also needed in all kinds of geographic locations cities, suburban areas and rural communities.
Rural communities have a great demand for nurse practitioners. “This is because there is a shortage of primary care physicians which provides opportunities for the nurse practitioner,” Dixon said. Nurse practitioners can evaluate patients, manage treatment plans and write prescriptions as well as get to know their patients on an individual level. These responsibilities help nurse practitioners care for patients more holistically and ensure that patients in communities everywhere have access to quality healthcare.
The beauty of the nursing profession is that the demand for nursing care is everywhere. Any community with a goal of improving health of their citizens or keep them healthy needs nurse practitioners.
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Is The Second Time The Charm For Making The Dnp The New Minimum For Nps
This isnt the first time NPs have lined up for this ride. Way back in 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommended that NPs be required to earn a DNP, pushing to make it a requirement effective 2015 a deadline that is very much in the rearview mirror today for an initiative that ended up falling flat.
The inspiration for that first push initially came from a 2001 Institute of Medicine declaration calling for an overall reform of healthcare provider education, and was described in detail in the 2003 roadmap laid out for meeting that goal.
The AACN developed the DNP as a new level of terminal degree for the nursing profession with hopes that it would become the new minimum education requirement for NPs and other APRNs. In the years that followed, the DNP became a relatively popular choice among ambitious nurses and those simply anticipating the possibility of the coming change but by 2015 no state license commission had adopted the DNP standard, and less than a quarter of schools training APRNs even offered the degree.
A 2015 study the AACN commissioned from RAND sheds some light on the failure. While many schools added DNP programs during the push, they also retained their MSN programs and those MSN programs enrolled three times as many students as the DNP programs did. RAND found various structural issues in academia that slowed DNP adoption, as well as a lack of demand for DNPs in the APRN market.