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Enrolling in Nurse Practitioner Programs & Schools to Further Your Education

The healthcare industry has an increasing demand for nurse practitioners, an advanced registered nurse practitioner who has completed a high-level graduate program. Nurse practitioners have completed extensive nurse practitioner education and training that may encompass specialty roles, such as family, women’s health, pediatrics, acute care, and adult care. Nurse practitioners have provided individualized healthcare for more than forty years. Today, the healthcare industry has continued its efforts to promoting a career suited for candidates interested in nurse practitioner programs.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners hold a national board certification, and a state nursing board’s distributed license. Nurse practitioners focus on individualized care. In other words, the nurse practitioner focuses on the patient’s conditions, including the cause and symptoms of the illness. Nurse practitioners ensure preventative, wellness, and education to the patient and his or her family. To elaborate on the latter, nurse practitioners educate patients and their family members on the current status of the patient’s health, and encourage him or her to make healthier choices. In addition to individualized care, nurse practitioners conduct research based on certain illnesses sponsored by patient advocacy groups.

Nurse practitioners treat physical and mental conditions by assessing the patient’s medical history through a series of survey questions, conduct physical exams, and order and interpret diagnostic tests. Therefore, nurse practitioners have the ability to diagnose the underlying illness and then provide the appropriate care according to the patient’s needs, including prescribing medications. Nurse practitioners can function as the patient’s primary healthcare provider, and usually admits patients of all ages, depending on the nurse practitioner’s specialty.

In the United States, nurse practitioners must pass a national board of certification. Nurse practitioners usually have a specialty in one of several healthcare areas, including Family Health, Pediatrics, Neonatology, Gerontology, Women’s Health, Acute Care, Adult Health, Oncology, Psychiatric and Mental Healthcare, Emergency Care, Occupational Health, and more. Nurse practitioners generally work independently or in a collaborative effort with a corresponding healthcare team.

Nurse Practitioner Career Overview

Nurse practitioners function similarly to physicians by providing the overall management of a patient’s treatment protocol according to his or her diagnosis. In fact, a nurse practitioner diagnoses and treats patient conditions by administering tests and conducting physical examinations. In addition, they have the authority to write prescriptions and counsel patients, unlike registered nurses. Therefore, nurse practitioners have the credentials to provide extensive patient services, while employed in any number of healthcare settings, including clinics, hospitals, schools, public health departments, emergency rooms, private practices, and other related healthcare centers.

According to the American Nurses Association (AMA), nurse practitioners can provide roughly sixty to eighty percent of primary and preventative healthcare to patients. The ever-increasing demand of competent nurses has placed great emphasis on the acquisition of nurse practitioners in the healthcare industry. This has created excellent job opportunities for nurse practitioners worldwide. In fact, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners cites that the average nurse practitioner salary for all specialties hovers around $86,500 per annual year.

Nurse Practitioner Education

Prospective students usually obtain a master’s degree or one of the equivalent nurse practitioner programs at the very least to become a nurse practitioner. Strong candidates have established themselves as nationally-recognized registered nurses. A masters of science in nursing degree program usually takes between two and three years to complete. An MSN provides students with the necessary competencies to enter professional healthcare settings with the required nurse practitioner education determined by various agencies. The common curriculum for masters of science in nursing degree programs include promoting health, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and various nursing theories. After obtaining a masters of science in nursing degree, graduates may opt to complete a doctoral program to expand potential career opportunities and expertise.

Nurse practitioner schools usually encourage graduates with an MSN to acquire their Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree. Doctorate of nursing practice degrees teach advanced practices that equip the nurse practitioner to meet the patient’s needs. In addition, nurse practitioners with a doctorate in nursing practice may qualify to become teachers in nursing at a qualified nurse practitioner school. Nurse practitioner schools introduce this common curriculum for doctorate in nursing practice, including population health, leadership, behavior complexity, and capstone projects.

Nurse practitioners must obtain a registered nurse license through the National Council of Examination in order to enroll into any number of nurse practitioner programs. Nurse practitioners have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to obtain the aforementioned credentials. Passing the NCLEX-RN exam is a prerequisite to entering the healthcare industry as a registered nurse. It proves that the candidate has the necessary skills to interact with patients on a daily basis. After completing the registered nursing credentials at one of the accredited nurse practitioner schools, qualifying candidates generally focus on any number of chosen nurse practitioner programs focused on a specialty area for certification in the desired specialty.

Graduates seeking entrance into one of the numerous nurse practitioner programs with a specialty in mind should contact the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center for more information on the specific nursing certifications needed to complete their credentials. Nurse practitioners must renew these certifications every five years in order to continue with the ever-increasing development within the profession.

What About Online Nurse Practitioner Programs?

Some may opt for continuing education courses at one of the reputable nurse practitioner schools online. Due to the overwhelming demands of most registered nursing professions, prospective students seeking a career as nurse practitioner may enroll into an online nurse practitioner program. An online nurse practitioner program can offer many advantages and disadvantages to the applicant. For instance, nurse practitioner programs online may offer lenient scheduling; however, they may not offer intensive laboratory work that will grant the student experienced in the field. Online nurse practitioner programs may require the prospective student to enroll into a respective internship to acquire the necessary field experience.

In addition, there are many nurse practitioner programs online that may not have obtained accreditation. Non-accredited online nurse practitioner programs can prove detrimental to a graduate’s job hunt; therefore, prospective students are encouraged to conduct more research on the various nurse practitioner programs online to weed out the bad apples. If this search becomes problematic, then most experienced nurse practitioners would advise students to seek a nurse practitioner school that will prove worthwhile in their future endeavors.