How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
A nurse practitioner is a nurse that has gone above the educational requirements for registered nurses. Nurse practitioners are also known as advanced practice nurses, and most of them hold duties similar to physicians. If you want to work like a doctor without having to fully go through medical school, you may want to learn how to become a nurse practitioner. The process may not take as long as you think, and it could lead to an exciting and rewarding career. The guide below highlights just how easy it may be for you to enter this profession in the future.
Step 0 – Determine If This Is the Right Career for You
Before you can learn how to become a nurse practitioner, you need to figure out if this is the right career for you. Qualities of a good nurse practitioner include:
- An in depth knowledge of the nursing profession
- The ability to adapt to new cases and new equipment
- A strong work ethic and commitment to staying on schedule
- The ability to make patients feel better in a depressing situation
- The ability to lead a team of other employees
Nurse practitioners work on a diagnostic level, not just an assistant level. Rather than helping physicians go through their day to day activities, nurse practitioners often examine patients, diagnose medical conditions, and prescribe medications to improve the way a patient feels. Some nurse practitioners even go as far as performing surgical procedures, so you never know what you may be doing in this career. What is certain is the fact that this profession is much more intense than other areas of nursing. If you think you can handle the many tasks involved with being a nurse practitioner, you may be in for an exciting career in the future.
Step 1 – Get an Education
Nurse practitioners have to go through higher educational programs than most nurses. To become a registered nurse, all you need is an associate’s degree in nursing. To become a nurse practitioner, you have to pass through all of the following degree programs:
- Diploma in Nursing (DN)
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
This will require a total of six years in school, assuming you attend college on a full time basis. If not, it could take even longer. Most nurse practitioners will work as RNs after they obtain their associate’s degree in nursing, just so that they can start applying their education to real life situations. You could look into a degree program online to simplify this process, and then all you would have to do is attend classes when you are not working. With the right balance, you should be able to complete your degree programs with no issues at all.
Step 2 – Pass a Licensure Exam
Once you have completed your degree programs, you will need to take a certification exam to determine if you remember enough information to work in this field. If you plan on working in a specialized section of nursing, you may need to take additional tests to assess your skills in that area. You can contact your state’s nursing board to find out about the different certifications you will need, and then you simply need to study for your exam.
Step 3 – Gain Work Experience
As mentioned above, most nurse practitioners will work as RNs while they earn their master’s degrees. If you choose not to do that though, you will most likely need to work as an entry level nurse for a year until you can become an actual nurse practitioner. That will give you the work experience you need to fulfill the requirements for most nurse practitioner jobs. you can benefit a lot from the hands-on training you will get at this time, so consider this experience a boost in the right direction.
Step 4 – Find a Job
With all of your training and certification in place, the only thing you will have left to do is to find a job as a nurse practitioner. You can check with local hospitals and health clinics to see if any of them are in need of your services. Then you can fill out job applications until you secure a position at a health care facility. Follow the steps above, and you will be teaching others how to become a nurse practitioner in no time.