How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners are professionals who can provide specialty and primary health care to patients.

They work very closely with patients and other health care professionals and are responsible for the coordination of patient health care.

Individuals who want to become a Nurse Practitioner also known as an NP or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) will have a passion working with people and the health care field.

These professionals have more advanced education than Registered Nurses (RNs), have more responsibilities and may also have the ability to provide primary and specialty health care to their patient independently or in conjunction with doctors and physicians.

In addition, these professionals may also opt to choose a specialization such as anesthesiology, midwifery or work with a specific group.

Education Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Individuals who want to become a Nurse Practitioner will need to seek a degree at the Master’s level, gain clinical experience, secure a national certification and be a Registered Nurse (RN) in the state they practice in.

Individuals who want to become a Nurse Practitioner must first attend an undergraduate program with a focus on Nursing or a closely related field.

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Most APRN Master’s programs seek candidates who have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.

During their Master’s program, individuals will take courses in physiology, pharmacology and anatomy in different settings such as classroom instruction and in a clinical setting.

Some APRN programs offer the ability to prepare students for the RN licensure needed to practice as a Nurse Practitioner.

If a program does not offer this, a student must seek this licensure before applying for jobs or seeking certification in their state.

After completing a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s and attaining a Registered Nurse license, individuals must then seek certification in the state they reside or wish to work in.

Currently, there is no standardization for APRN certification, but the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is seeking to do just that.

Visit NCSBN for more information about this organization.

The standardization of this profession will include: completion of a graduate degree from an accredited institution, licensure to be a registered nurse, testing and certification of a national exam and acquiring a second license for a specialty such as anesthesiology or midwifery.

Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Nurse Practitioners typically perform the same duties as Registered Nurses.

To learn more information about their patients, they will read their medical background, symptoms and create and implement plans for a patient’s care using that information.

Nurse Practitioners are also able diagnose patients from the information gleaned from their medical files and diagnose a variety of health problems.

To further understand a client’s medical concerns, Nurse Practitioners may also order diagnostic tests and take the time to analyze the results.

If a test comes back positive for an illness or infection, a Nurse Practitioner will also determine a patient’s treatment and prescribe a medicine.

If needed, a Nurse Practitioner will refer to a physician, doctor or other health care professionals.

Other duties Nurse Practitioners are responsible for include: performing physical exams, operate medical equipment, perform research for uncommon medical ailments and meet with patients and their families to discuss the management and treatment of illnesses, injuries or disorders.

Nurse Practitioner Salary and Career Path

Nurse Practitioners earned a median annual wage of $96,460 in 2012.

Exact wages will depend on the level of experience and the industry an individual works in.

For example, Nurse Practitioners working at state, local or private earned a median annual wage of $101,990 in 2012 while professionals who worked at state, local or private universities or colleges earned a median wage of $88,070.

Job projections for Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners are expected to grow by 31 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is attributed due to the increase in demand for health care services prompted by healthcare legislation, the large aging population and a recent interest for preventative care.

Nurse Practitioners are busy health care professionals who perform a variety of tasks that assist in the improvement of their patients.

Their tasks are similar to that of Registered Nurses but in addition have the capacity to diagnose common illnesses, provide treatments and give medicine, sometimes without the supervision of a Physician.

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