Rhode Island Nurse Practitioner Programs

The medical field is in constant need of new graduates as our population grows and ages. In Rhode Island, things are heading in the right direction for residents of the state. While the U.S. has an average of 58 nurse practitioners per 100,000 people, Rhode Island is well above that average with 66 per 100,000. In 2011 there were a total of just under 700 NPs working in Rhode Island which makes up a total of 0.4% of total working practitioners in the United States.

The above average number of people working in the field may dissuade you a bit when you are considering this field for a career, but consider a few things before moving on to a different choice. First and foremost, consider the income and options that come with a career as a nurse practitioner. On average, you can expect to earn around $44.00 an hour, and you will get to choose where you want to work. Rhode Island NPs also has a higher than average income expectation. The career is growing significantly as well, with an increase of over 120% in job postings in 2012.

Rhode Island NPs also have freedoms that are rare in the field. Most nurse practitioners require a physician to oversee diagnosing and treatment of patients, including prescriptions. In Rhode Island, you won’t have that limitation. Half the country requires physician oversight for diagnosing and treating patients and 2/3s of the country requires it for prescribing medicines. If you want that extra freedom in this career Rhode Island offers it.

Rhode Island currently fills about 90% of the open positions in this field, but without more graduates, that number will decline over the years. Rhode Island only saw 100 medical graduates in 2012, and with the expected rate of increase need over the coming decade, finding a position should not be too difficult.

If additional questions or concerns come up throughout your career, you can become a member of the Rhode Island State Nurses Association (or RISNA) which offers everything from work related to quality of life events and assistance.

Earning your Degree

A question many potential NPs concerns the difference in a doctor and a nurse practitioner. You will be in school for two years less to become an NP, but more importantly, the type of care you focus on is the key difference. You’ll practice nursing, which in most cases is different than how a doctor would treat patients. You will focus on a holistic approach to prevention and treatment. You will spend more time working with patients on things that will help them live healthy and long lives. Doctors, while they do practice in this way in many cases, often have such heavy workloads that they can’t spend the same amount of time with patients to focus on these preventative measures in the same way a nurse practitioner will.

One of the main focuses of your education will be to understand all aspects of the career to a degree that you can complete the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. This is often the last step before entering the field as a nurse practitioner.

You will also find that Rhode Island offers two important scholarships for students entering this field. The Willard and Marjorie Scheibe Nursing Scholarship offers $3,000 for students and financial need is a consideration. Rhode Island Primary Care Loan Forgiveness Program offers up to $10,000/year for graduates working 32 hours or more a week in direct patient care for up to four years.

Once you are done with all of your required testing and start to enter the working world, you will find that there are a number of big employers in the state for your profession. As of March 2011, top employers for nurses included Health Concepts Ltd., with locations in Coventry, Johnston, South Kingston, Newport and many other cities. Genesis Health Ventures is the second largest located in Warwick, Middletown and Cumberland.

Finding the Right School

Rhode Island has a number of good schools you can attend for your degree. Some of these schools are nationally recognized online universities that will have remote sites the state; others are old fashion brick and mortar universities that you can get a dorm room at. Look at both options and see if you want to focus on an online or campus based education. Since this is a science based curriculum, you’ll spend some time in a lab, so make sure your choice has a campus that is not too far to travel.

University of Phoenix

Known for their online degree programs and robust ecampus learning tools, UoP has become a hugely popular school in the internet age. They are easily the most popular online university right now, but they have a campus in Providence for any lab work or face to face time you may need. They aren’t the cheapest school out there, but they are very well respected in the field. Online educations are incredibly popular because of the flexibility they give to students, so if you are planning on doing your full program with one school, UoP is worth a look.

University of Rhode Island

A popular choice for students from all types of majors, this Kingston based university offers programs in a family based nurse practitioner field. URI offers the full college experience with a wide range of electives and organizations for students. You’ll also find ecampus options if you wish to study remotely for some of your courses.

Rhode Island College

Located in the Mount Pleasant section of Providence, RIC offers a full MSN degree program to students. If you wish to live on campus you will find summer housing as well as the expected semester focused housing. RIC isn’t a huge college compared to some, but with almost 9,000 students in on and off campus programs, you should have little trouble finding students to work with as you study.