Nurse Practitioner Education

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nurse practitioner education
Nurse Practitioner Education. If you aspire to be a nurse practitioner, here's an example of what you'll learn in school.

What degree level is available?

If your ultimate goal is to become a nursing practitioner, your educational goal is to earn a Master of Science degree in Nursing degree.

Your current educational background will determine how you get to the finish line.

Associate Degree Program

The 2 year associate degree program is a solid stepping stone that you can use to enter the field of nursing. After completing the course, you are eligible to attend the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN) and apply for a registered nurse license (RN). It can open doors to entry level positions in hospitals or inpatient facilities and provide you with a valuable experience. It can also be used as a building block if you decide to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Courses usually include basic science and math, plus English classes for a thorough education.

Another option that has some similarities with an associate degree is a diploma in nursing. While it qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN exam and register for entry level positions, it usually takes about 3 years and does not meet the requirements you need to apply for BSN or MSN.

Degree program

Nursing is a career field with several undergraduate degree options. The end result is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, but you have to make a choice on which path you take to get there.

Five types of Bachelor's degree in Nursing:
  • BSN: 4 years degree and a prerequisite for applying to a graduate nursing school. The first two years cover the core requirements and the last two years focus primarily on care. This degree is a good start for a nurse practitioner who will ultimately decide on a special skill.
  • LPN-to-BSN: In four semesters, a licensed licensed nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) can earn a BSN degree.
  • RN-to-BSN: This unique pathway gives RN with an associate or diploma degree the opportunity to continue their career while working.
  • BSN level two: Intended for someone who already has a 4 year degree in another field and is interested in changing careers. This program can often be completed in two years or less because of the credit for liberal arts education from the original level.
  • Accelerated Degree BSN: As the name implies, students can complete their degree in a shorter period of time (usually 12 to 20 months).

You can find many level problems both online and on campus. As an example of a typical course load, BSN Online Briarcliffe College offers the following core courses:
Example of BSN Core Courses
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Physical examination and health assessment
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Information management

Graduates can follow NCLEX-RN at graduation.

Master Degree Program

The MSN program is generally a two-year commitment. Not only will you get your bachelor's degree, but you will also be trained in the specialization of your choice. Many MSN programs are available online and in traditional schools.

To get a better understanding of what MSN courses will do, here's a quick example of classes:
  • Health care policy: Includes key features of health care delivery systems, financial and political impacts and teaches students to critically think about policy issues.
  • Advanced Concepts in Pharmacology: Guidelines on prescription, drug interactions and side effects are taught.
  • Health care ethics: This course teaches students about the relationship between service providers, legal and ethical issues and moral judgments.
  • Theory and Practice (based on Specialty): This topic will start from broad to narrow with early classes that cover the theory and practice in your chosen specialization and move on to more in depth training related to the specific patient addressed in your specialty.
  • Clinical Practice: Direct experience is required as part of the nursing practitioner's education. The number of clinical hours required varies by country so check your state board's requirements to ensure that your program provides the hours.

Doctoral Program

The Nursing Practice Doctor (DNP) is not required to practice as a nurse practitioner, but if you want to advance further in your career, this degree provides a clinical focus (not research). As the medical field continues to grow and more nurses get higher degrees, doctoral programs can help you stand out in the crowd. The DNP program is available online and on campus.

An example of DNP online is the DNP American Sentinel University in Executive Leadership. The program is aimed at managers or executive level nurses and teaches students about finance, business intelligence, sound policy, leadership and healthcare research.

Post master certificates can also be obtained through online schools and cover topics such as nursing informants and midwifery nurses.

What certifications will I need?

The American Certification of Nurse Practitioner Certification Program (AANPCP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) both offer nationally recognized certification programs. Your specialization will determine which organizations you can certify, although there is some overlap with some specializations.

Nurses with master's, post-graduate or doctoral degrees may apply for certification to adult, family and adult-gerontology nursing specialties by taking the AANPCP exam. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must have:
  • Nurse Practitioner with MSN, post-master or doctoral certificate
  • Active RN License
  • Minimum of 500 hours of clinical hours supervised by faculty members
  • The final transcript or transcript shows the work done so far

Students who within six months graduate with MSN or higher can begin the application process for the AANPCP certification exam.

ANCC also allows students to apply for an exam before graduating and certifying nurse practitioners in nearly a dozen specializations:
  • Acute Treatment Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-gerontology acute care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult gerontology primary care Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Practitioner of adult psychiatric-mental health
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatry-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • School Nurse Practitioner

The general eligibility requirements for taking the ANCC exam are:
  • Have current RN license
  • Your master's degree, post-graduate or doctoral specialization
  • At least 500 hours of clinically supervised faculty
  • Postgraduate courses in physiology, pathophysiology, advanced health assessment and advanced pharmacology
  • Graduate level content in health promotion and care, disease management and differential diagnosis

It is recommended that students examine the appropriate specialization criteria before applying.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Institute (PNCB) and the National Certification Corporation (NCC), which offers exams for neonatal NPs and women's NPs, also offer exams.

What will I learn in my course?

The core science and nursing topics will be taught in undergraduate programs. When you reach the undergraduate course, you will determine the NP specialization that will determine the type of class you will take.

Some of the main specializations to choose from are:
  • Treatment of acute care
  • Family nursing
  • Community health care
  • Nursing oncology
  • Women's health care
  • Geriatric treatment
  • Neonatal care
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Childcare

Students can prepare themselves to study topics such as health policy, ethics, business management, nursing theory and health promotion and disease prevention.

How long will it take?

Depending on your level of dedication, a nursing degree may take the following time to complete:
  • Associate degree program, which allows entry, usually takes two years
  • The bachelor's degree program takes four years
  • Accelerated BSN programs range from 12 to 20 months
  • BSN level two generally takes two years or less
  • The Master's degree program generally takes two years

Attending part-time is usually an option in most schools, but remember that it will take longer to complete.

Are online programs available?

Nursing is a very hands-on profession so you might assume an online program does not exist, but rightly so. Students can obtain BSN and MSN online at various schools with some part-time curriculum as well.

Online programs can offer live web-based teaching and when it's time to finish clinical hours, online courses usually assign students to a location that has been accompanied by the school.

Is there a prerequisite?

As part of a community of advanced practice nurses, nurse practitioners must have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree specializing in specific areas, such as family or geriatric nursing. Because MSN programs use undergraduate programs as their building blocks, certain prerequisites apply.
  • Bachelor degree of Nursing (BSN) from accredited nursing school
  • Registered registered nurse license (RN)
  • Levels of clinical experience
  • Minimum GPA
  • Minimum score on Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

If this does not describe your background, you have several options depending on your schedule and how quickly you want to work as a nurse practitioner. The first option is to enroll in a degree program and follow the traditional path to get MSN. If you are not a nurse, but have a 4-year degree in another field, consider an acceleration program that allows students to get their BSN and MSN simultaneously.

Associate nursing degrees and diplomas can also push you into the first step of breastfeeding, especially if you are trying to enter the field quickly and graduate high school recently or someone looking for a career change.

What accreditation is there for my program?

Attending an accredited nursing school opens doors for students as it is often the gateway for students to study in federally and state-funded programs. Second, a degree from an accredited school allows a student to continue further education at another accredited school.

For the nursing practitioner program, the accreditation body is the Collegiate Nursing Education Committee (CCNE), recognized as a national accreditation body by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The program may also be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Nursing Education (ACEN). Meanwhile, continuing the educational nursing program - which will then come in the career of NP - should also be accredited by the ANCC Accreditation Program.

Unaccredited schools: If you are thinking of attending an unaccredited school, but a government-approved school, there may be a shortage.

While you can still follow NCLEX, your nursing profession might get stuck if you're looking for additional education. Generally, education from non-accredited schools does not qualify students for an accredited school. If you think of a career as a nurse practitioner where MSN is required, attending an unaccredited undergraduate school may limit your choices in the future.
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Certification for Nurse Practitioners - Getting national certification is required by many states and employers for nursing practitioners and other advanced nursing practitioners. Credentialing is available at ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) and the AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners). Candidates are required to pass a certification exam in a specialized field to get certified. Typically, this area of specialization is equivalent to graduate degree programs who have completed their education.