What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?
Nurse Practitioners provide primary, and in some cases, acute care using an approach that focuses on health and well-being.Nurse Practitioners may work in any setting, but are especially in demand in rural or urban areas and in underserved communities.
Nurse Practitioners tend to work very autonomously. They see patients in clinics or offices and either performs routine physical exams, or focused assessments for patients with a specific complaint. They can send patients for diagnostic testing and even develop a treatment plan. In many states, they are able to write prescriptions for most medications. Nurse Practitioners provide patient education and can refer patients to other specialists.
A Note About Transitional APRN Programs
Some colleges have developed Nurse Practitioner programs that allow candidates to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees in a seamless fashion so that they can move directly into the graduate program without taking time off from school.
Another option – and one that many experienced nurses recommend – is to become a registered nurse and work for a few years before beginning graduate school. This gives the nurse a chance to gain experience and be more prepared for the rigors of independent practice.
“Nurse Practitioners see patients in clinics or offices and either performs routine physical exams, or focused assessments for patients with a specific complaint.”
Nurse practitioners even have the option of specializing in their area of advanced practice, earning their degree and a national board certification in:
Find a Nurse Practitioner MSN Specialty Program
Throughout this page, you can find Nurse Practitioner programs in your state, or to search accredited online MSN programs that are currently accepting applicants into their program. Note that all of the programs we have listed are sponsored programs and they may require an RN license to be accepted into their program.
Nurse Practitioner Programs Usually Yield an MSN Degree
Once a Master’s of Science in Nursing is earned, it is possible to switch specialties by earning a post-graduate certificate.
There are many different professional organizations that serve Nurse Practitioners, depending on the specialty and population treated. However, The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is one of the largest national organizations, and represents NPs of all interests and specialties.
Throughout this page, you’ll find some featured online nurse practitioner programs. By clicking their listing, you can talk with the program’s admissions department to get your questions answered to see if it is the right fit for you.
Who is the Online Nurse Practitioner Degree for?
When deciding if an online Nurse Practitioner program is right for you, first consider the career outcomes and job descriptions that are relevant to graduates. Those who earn their degree often help develop plans for treating chronic illness and disease. They also help educate patients on preventing disease and adapting healthier lifestyles to aid their treatment. Nurse Practitioners also conduct examinations and perform tests on a variety of patient populations.
In some cases, Nurse Practitioners prescribe medications and conduct screening evaluations. If these types of professional duties sound right for you, then you should consider enrolling in a Family Nurse Practitioner FNP program.
The online aspect of these programs can be especially beneficial for students who are already busy working as nurses. Most programs are designed by nursing professionals who understand the work/life/school balance that many students have to manage in order to maintain their current career while working ahead in their education. That’s why many schools do not require mandatory times to view lectures or participate in discussions.
Faculty can be reached by email or online chat at flexible times. And coursework can usually be completed at times that work for you, as long as you stay on pace with the timelines outlined in your course syllabus.
Path to Become a Nurse Practitioner
1. Obtaining your bachelors degree
The first step to becoming a nurse practitioner is obtaining a Bachelors degree in Nursing from an accredited university. Obtaining an accredited degree ensures that your degree is suited for future licensure, which is another vital step to becoming a NP.
During this program, you may be involved in classes that partake in the general aspects of nursing as well as some clinical practice in the field. The instructors try hard to test your skills in the field to ensure that you are prepared for working individually with patients. Once you have successfully completed this step move on to licensure!
2. Obtain licensure as a RN
In order to be considered for future graduate degree programs, you must be a licensed registered nurse. Licensure gives you the freedom to pursue job opportunities as different health care facilities within your state of practice.
Requirements may vary depending on the state in which you live, so be sure to research your states licensure requirements prior to starting the BSN program. Most licensure requirements include graduation from an accredited BSN program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. The NCLEX exams are required for all professionals that are interested in becoming licensed in nursing fields and are in important step to moving forward to higher level nursing positions.
3. Gain relevant experience
Going from BSN to masters level is not always the best method for success in the field of nursing. There is so much diversity and surprise in this field that it requires experience to truly understand what is required of professionals working in it.
Most graduate degree programs require that you already have a license to practice nursing in your state and a BSN in nursing from an accredited university. If you plan to choose a specialty for you NP program, try working in a field that exposes you to clients that are found within your specialty. Experience such as this can potentially go a long way in your masters degree program.
4. Obtain a graduate degree
The last step to becoming a nurse practitioner is the completion of an accredited graduate program. You may choose from a couple of options that can qualify you to work as a nurse practitioner in the field. The most frequented path to becoming a nurse practitioner is through the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. The minimum requirement for nurse practitioners is a masters degree, so most RNs choose this as the quickest method.
Through this program you may be expected to learn the advance practice standards of nursing alongside clinical practice requirements. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is also an option and requires more time and training to achieve. If you are interested in having potentially more prestige in the nursing field, than the latter may be your best option. The programs can last from 1-2 years for the MSN and 4-6 for the DNP.
Family Nurse Practitioner Courses to Expect
The curriculum of an online Family Nurse Practitioner program is typically geared to help students become primary or acute care providers in all areas, and can include specializations that can prepare students for particular roles. General coursework for online FNP programs may include the following advanced graduate courses:
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Diagnostic Reasoning in Clinical Practice
- Researched-Based Nursing Principles
- Advanced Clinical Nursing Practicum
- Clinical Procedures for Advanced Practice Nurses
- Complex Medical Issues
- Advanced Health Assessments
Just like campus-based programs, you should expect your courses to be taught by faculty with real-world FNP clinical and research experience. FNP programs can also prepare you to work internationally where there is a great need for nurses educated through our high standards of education.
Nurse Practitioner Salary Info
We’ve pulled some general nurse practitioner salary information but you should also do research into your specific geographical location as it can vary greatly. You should also look into the cost of living for your location too.
Nurse Practitioner – $101,260 on average per year (BLS; 2015)