Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP)
When you’re ready to make a big difference in a patient’s life, you might want to consider the nurse practitioner course of study over the traditional nursing programs in your area. Nurse practitioners can be involved in a variety of tasks and specialties including family care, pediatrics, geriatrics, adult care, acute care, neonatal care, women’s health, occupation health, anesthesiology, and midwifery.
Becoming a nurse practitioner will require that you receive a master’s degree in nursing before applying for a nurse practitioner program. Most traditional nursing degrees can take anywhere from two to four years to complete, depending on the program. After the diploma or certificate is received, the student can then gain some real-life experience in nursing before applying to the selected nurse practitioner program. The NP program usually takes anywhere from one to two additional years.
But you may also want to note that you do not necessarily have to be a registered nurse before entering a nurse practitioner training program. Some schools are allowing students to receive both their RN and their NP licenses within the same program during a longer period of time. These schools can be highly selective regarding the students that they choose, as the course work is much more intense and demands a very strong commitment from the student who applies.
The duties of a nurse practitioner can vary depending on the field of specialty, but generally include:
- Medical exams, diagnoses, and treatment plans
- Taking of patient histories and maintaining accurate medical records
- Educational responsibilities to students and nurses’ aides
- May be a supervisor of health care staff in a hospital or private office setting
- May advise the writing and revising of health rules and regulations
- May safely practice methods of avoiding infection
- Any additional duties that are required by their specialty
Though these duties seem vague, it is important to note that nurse practitioners act much like doctors in their positions. They have the training and the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses and conditions with treatment plans or medications. They are able to help a patient through the entire treatment process as well as follow up with the patient in further consultations.
Nurse practitioners are becoming more commonplace in private doctor’s offices due to this wide range of skills. Functioning much like a physician, a nurse practitioner can give a medical office another highly trained staff member with the ability to function independently.
The average salary of a nurse practitioner is around $70,000 annually but can certainly increase well above this as the NP gains experience and administration responsibilities.
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, you’ll need your nursing degree first. Begin your search here: