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How Do I Become a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is one of the highest ranking fields in the nursing career range. Nurse practitioners can do many of the same duties as a physician. They can treat patients, diagnose diseases and prescribe medication and treatments for patients. In most states, nurse practitioners can even work in a private practice on their own. Like most other fields in the health care world, there is a strong job outlook for this career. Becoming a nurse practitioner takes more time and requires more post secondary education than a regular nurse.

To become a nurse practitioner, the nurse must first earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing and pass the state licensing exam to become a registered nurse. To earn a bachelor’s degree, someone can either attend all four years at a traditional college or university or they can attend two years at a technical school or community college and earn an associate’s degree. After earning the associate’s degree, they enter the work force for an employer that offers tuition reimbursement for a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse. Then they can earn their bachelor’s degree while working as a nurse for additional experience and training. The student must take and pass their state’s licensing exam to become eligible to work as a registered nurse.

After this, they must complete a master’s or doctorate program in advanced nursing to become a nurse practitioner. These programs take between two and three years to finish and usually offer more specialized classes in the nurse practitioners are of care. Most nurse practitioner students choose an area of specialized care that they will focus in when they start practicing after their graduation from their graduate program. Nurse practitioners can focus on family care, pediatrics, adult, geriatrics, women’s health, acute health care, occupational care and neonatal care just to name a few.

Some states require advanced training and licensure to operate with a health care focus as a nurse practitioner. Some of these states also require continuing education classes over the course of a nurse practitioner’s career. Nursing students should check for their state’s requirements for nurse practitioners. To be able to operate as a nurse practitioner, students must pass a licensing exam. A change in health care legislation will require all advanced care nurses, like nurse practitioners, to obtain a doctorate degree beginning in 2015. This will have no affect on nurse practitioners already operating their own practice or working in a health care center or agency.