West Virginia Nurse Practitioner Programs

Nurses working in all levels of the career are finding that becoming a nurse practitioner increases their income potential and their employment options a great deal. There are a few reasons for this, the largest including the aging and growing population, the changes in health care laws and the cost efficiency of hiring more nurse practitioners as opposed to physicians. Nurse practitioners are able to perform a majority of the daily functions that physicians perform and they can do it at a lower income rate. The advantage for nurses is that they can start working as a nurse practitioner years before they could if they were to become a physician. Many educational institutes also focus on a holistic and personal education for nurse practitioners which many students prefer over the more focused medical training of a physician.

West Virginia is in need of nurse practitioners more than many other states. With the national average number of NPs per 100,000 population sitting at 58, West Virginia only sees 49 per. This means that less nurse practitioners are available currently to handle the growing need and employers are hiring them as soon as they can. In 2011 only 166 medical school graduates enter the employment sector in the state and a small portion of those were nurse practitioners. Starting your education now will put you on the path to fill the many roles that are needed.

While registered nurses earn a healthy income, nurse practitioners enjoy a much higher wage. Earning almost $80,000 a year on average, nurse practitioners enjoy a low cost of living (West Virginia is ranked 14th in the country) and a sizable income. Nurse practitioners in West Virginia also have more freedom than they would in many states. With no physician involvement needed in diagnosing and treating patients, they can work in many areas without any oversight. They do, however, need physician involvement for prescribing medications. Only 18 states allow nurse practitioners to prescribe without physician involvement, so if you prefer to work on your own, you will not find many states that allow you more freedom.

West Virginia currently holds 908 nurse practitioners (as of 2011) with the highest percentage of jobs relative to the population in Weirton and Huntington. Charleston and Parkersburg see the lowest percentage relative to the population and Huntington and Charleston enjoy the highest average income in the state. That should put Charleston on your radar for potential places to earn the most money and start working the quickest.

The West Virginia Nurses Association is home to a number of important resources that will help you network with other professionals in the state. The WVNA offers information and assistance with continuing education, a career center, news, events and legislative out reach. Their goal is to ensure all nurses have a unified and powerful voice, focus on enhanced quality healthcare for West Virginia citizens, and promote professional development of nurses throughout the state.

Finances

Schools offer individual grants, scholarships and other loan forgiveness or repayment options for students and individuals willing to work in underrepresented areas upon graduation. You will also find a wealth of information about the loans and scholarships available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Another great option is to look at employers in your area and work as you attend school. Many will help with your school expenses and will often have great benefits if you continue with them upon graduation. The Ruby Day Surgery Center in Morgantown, Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington and the OHIO Valley medical Center in Wheeling rank in the top 15 employers in any industry in the state. These would be great places to get started and if you already work as a registered nurse, they will likely help make the rest of your education that much more affordable.

Colleges

West Virginia Wesleyan College

WVWC was founded in 1890 and functions as a private residential college affiliated with The United Methodist Church. With 14,000 students studying 44 majors, and a number of graduate programs, the small school works with students on an individual basis. The size should not turn you off though, it has won a number of accolades. Ranked 12th in the Washington Monthly magazine and named Best Southeastern College in The Princeton Review for 11 consecutive years, the school is known for its quality education at affordable prices.

West Virginia University

WVU is more than just a college, it is a new way of thinking about education and giving back to the state. With chemists from the university pioneering breakthrough research concerning the brain to winning Health Care’s ‘Most Wired’ designation for smart use of technology, the university is doing more than teaching students a career, it is preparing them for a cutting edge future. Students gave more than 70,000 hours of service to the community in 2012 and for the athletic fans, the women’s soccer team has made 13 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Finally, the school alumni and friends contributed $173 million in cash and in-kind gifts in 2012 and WVU Healthcare in Morgantown provided almost $93 million in uncompensated healthcare in 2011. For those in the nursing profession, these stats speak a great deal about the schools core values.