Nurse Practitioner Degree Information
A master’s degree in nursing is the minimum requirement with students expected to choose an area to specialize in. These typically include the following:
- Geriatric care
- Acute care
- Pediatric care
- Emergency care
- Psychiatric care
An RN license, a B.S. in nursing, and a minimum of two years working experience is also required in order to enroll for a nurse practitioner degree
Nurse Practitioner Curriculum
The coursework to become a nurse practitioner incorporates a mix of classroom and clinical experience whilst including elements of:
- Nursing management
- Nursing research
- Clinical pharmacology
- Clinical Diagnosis
- Family care
- Patient assessment
Getting a Degree Online
Traditional as well as online programs are available to become a nurse practitioner, offering various cost and schedule options.
Some of the top online accredited schools to offer a nurse practitioner degree include: Western Governors University, Graceland University, University of Cincinnati and the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing. Other schools can be researched by using the form on this page.
Licensure and Certification
Nurse practitioners are licensed by the state in which they practice, typically by the state’s board of nursing. Certification tests are required in some states, as are additional educational requirements for prescribing medicine
After graduation, nurse practitioners may also choose to take a national certification test in their specialty to become certified. The largest certifying organizations are the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Eligibility requirements vary by specialty.
Nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings. Most work in urgent care centers, hospitals, and physicians’ offices. Opportunities are also available in colleges and universities, the military, and the government. A nursing practitioner career is considered very portable; you can move almost anywhere in the U.S. and find job openings. Nursing as a whole is a very stable profession, with demand expected to continue to grow at least through 2020.
The median salary for a nurse practitioner is $80,000-$100,000 annually, depending on experience and geographic areas. Salaries are typically higher in large cities, and are currently highest in California. Per diem and hourly work are also popular options for nurse practitioners.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for all registered nurses is expected to rise 26%, substantially faster than average, by the year 2020. Growth is expected to occur because of an aging baby-boomer population needing more medical services, more preventative care, and new technologies.
How is a nurse practitioner different from other nurses?
All nurses have a common goal—to prevent illness and injury, treat and alleviate pain from disease or injury, and to advocate for patients, families and communities (American Nurses Association). Within the nursing profession, nurses can be differentiated by educational attainment or by specialization. A nurse practitioner is classified as an APRN, or advanced practice nurse because of his/her graduate degree. Unlike most nurses, NPs are able to prescribe medication. Registered nurses (RN) and licensed vocational nurses (LVN) each have less education, clinical freedom, and earning potential than NPs.
What can I expect in a job as a nurse practitioner?
Specific job duties vary widely depending on where you work. In a physician’s office, you may see patients all day just as the doctor does, calling them in for consults as needed. Diagnosis, prescription of medication or treatment, and preventative appointments are all handled by NPs.