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California Nursing: Nurse Practitioner Programs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are some 2.6 million jobs for registered nurses (RNs), making it the largest healthcare occupation in the United States. A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who has received further training and education in a specialty area, such as pediatrics, family practice, geriatrics, adult practice, oncology, acute care, neonatology, women’s health, mental health, and so on. Beyond the usual caretaking tasks, nurse practitioners can prescribe medication, diagnose, and treat various types of ailments. Nurse practitioner was ranked 4th in CNN Money’s Top 50 Jobs in America in 2009. If you are an RN in California and are interested in advancing your career as a nurse practitioner.

General State Education Information and Requirements

In the United States, all nurse practitioners are required to obtain post-graduate education leading to a masters in nursing degree or PhD. When you are looking for a nursing school, it’s important to look for nurse practitioner programs in California which are approved by California State Board of Registered Nursing. As one of the prerequisites for nurse practitioner programs, California State requires that RNs have an active state license. In California, aspiring RNs may apply for nursing license after they have completed a 2-year or 4-year program in an accredited college. Applicants to nurse practitioner programs in California are required to have a 4-year bachelor’s degree to be considered for admission, meaning that RNs with 2-year associate’s degree in nursing are not eligible to become nurse practitioners in California. Upon completion of the masters of science in nursing degree, you are required to apply for the California State Board of Registered Nursing’s Nurse Practitioner Certification and pay the application fee.

Why a Nurse Practitioner Degree Program is Beneficial?

There are many nurse practitioner programs, California is only one of the many options; and it’s interesting to look at some of the benefits of these programs. The most obvious benefit is career advancement. Pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner is a logical and viable step for RNs who want to advance their careers. With a nurse practitioner degree, they can earn higher wages, and expand their nursing horizons. Depending on the field of specialty, the nurse practitioner degree program trains and prepares RNs to work beyond usual scopes of patient care, patient education, treatment, and other duties, allowing them to play an more integral role. In nurse practitioner programs California approved by the Board of Registered Nursing, all the classes are designed to prepare RNs to develop critical thinking, advanced assessment, and prepares them to function efficiently in their new roles. A nurse practitioner degree program is also beneficial because it opens up many career opportunities.

Career Opportunities for Graduates in the State of California

With increasing demands for health care, the career prospects for graduates of nurse practitioner programs in California are extremely positive. According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the median salary of a full-time nurse practitioner in most specialties in 2007 is $86,486. The demand for nurse practitioners in California and the U.S. will be high because they provide unique services in sick-care, health maintenance, and health promotion. In fact, the American Nurses Association estimated that nurse practitioners provide 60 to 80 percent of preventive and primary care. For graduates of nurse practitioner programs, California provides a lot of career opportunities. Some of the places where nurse practitioners are employed include:

  • walk-in clinics
  • veterans administrative facilities
  • school or college clinics
  • correction facilities
  • public health departments
  • physician or private medical practices
  • private and public schools
  • colleges and universities
  • nursing schools
  • nursing homes
  • hospice care
  • hospitals and clinics
  • home health care agencies
  • health departments
  • urgent care centers
  • health centers
  • community clinics

Professional Organizations at National and State Level

The profession of a nurse practitioner is particularly challenging because of changing laws at both the national and state level. There’s also a constant need to upgrade one’s skills and knowledge to stay abreast with advancements in the field of nursing. These are some of the reasons why it’s important to become a member of professional nurse practitioner organizations at both the national and state level. Some of the professional national organizations are the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Nurse Practitioners, and National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health. The major state organization is the California Association for Nurse Practitioners.