How to Become a Nurse Practitioner: Finding the Right Program for You
If you are wondering how to become a nurse practitioner, chances are good that you already work as a registered nurse (RN). A nurse practitioner (NP) holds an advanced degree, so to become one, you’ll have to earn a bachelor’s degree and become an RN first. While it’s possible that NPs may have studied and worked in a similar field, it’s most common for RNs to pursue the NP career track. There are a few different avenues to becoming a nurse practitioner. One route is to complete an RN-to-BSN bridge program, which may help some students save time if they already have their RN credentials. Some graduate schools require that their students earn a few years of nursing experience before they enter a Master of Science in Nursing program and begin the steps toward becoming a nurse practitioner.
Some NPs earn a master’s degree, while others earn a doctorate. Regardless of the track you take, the nursing program will include classroom education as well as clinical training and cover a broad range of health subjects. After obtaining a degree, a nurse has to apply for their state license and certification. Rules and requirements vary by state.
When choosing which program is right for you, you’ll have to consider the scheduling, costs, and certifications required. Many people who are working full-time as an RN might find that they are best suited to participating in nurse practitioner programs online. Online learning can save both time and money, with flexible scheduling and lower costs compared to brick-and-mortar programs. Before getting an idea of which are the best nurse practitioner programs and applying for those that are a good fit for you, you’ll have to decide what your specialization will be.
What Are the Best Nurse Practitioner Programs for You?
It’s best to choose a specialization based on your career goals and your primary interests. These nurse practitioner programs are designed to make you an expert at administering specific types of health care.
Family Nurse Practitioner
These programs prepare nurses to provide care for patients and their families by managing illnesses through diagnosis and treatment. They can practice in the private or public health sector and may be physician consultants.
Adult Nurse Practitioner
These nurses practice on people over the age of 12. People who hold this degree might work in a private practice or hold a leadership position in a hospital.
Doctor of Nursing Practice
You must already have a master’s degree to enter into these programs. Completion of this program will allow nurse practitioners to perform advanced research and hold leadership positions.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
People who wish to be leaders and educators in their chosen field should consider this degree, which can be focused on their specialized area.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Nurses in this field treat patients who have mental illnesses. They may work with adults only or with adults and children.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Nurses in this field can treat adult women and adolescents who need reproductive and gynecological health care. They may also provide obstetric care.
Graduates from these programs will be trained to supervise a nursing staff. The duties include scheduling, overseeing patient care, ordering supplies, and managing staff duties.
People certified as nurse midwives care for women during pregnancy and during the childbirth process. Nurse midwives work in many environments, including birthing centers, hospitals, and in the home.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Nurses in this field care for the needs of babies, children, and adolescents as they evaluate, diagnose, and treat pediatric patients.
These nurses specialize in administering anesthesia. They may work alone or as part of a team and can be employed in a number of different medical settings.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
An oncology nurse cares for adults and children with cancer. They will manage symptoms and teach life care skills to patients and their families.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
This program is highly specialized and prepares nurses to administer critical care in the same capacity that a doctor could.
Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
Nurses in this field work with elderly patients. They advise their patients, offer life skills assistance, and provide bedside care.
This specialty will allow nurses to teach nursing in hospitals or universities. They are able to train entry-level and practicing nurses.
Plan Your Future
Deciding which specialization is right for you is the first step on the road to becoming a nurse practitioner. After deciding whether to attend class in person or to look into nurse practitioner programs online, the next step is to decide which school is right for you. Use our guides to find out more about specializations, programs, and nursing careers.