Whether you are a working nurse who wants to branch out or you are interested in pursuing a career in nursing, becoming a nurse practitioner has many advantages. Nurse practitioners work in a rewarding patient care role, they benefit from a high earning potential, and they can practice in many different specialty roles. Here is a guide to the nurse practitioner role and what it involves.

The Role Of A Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are health care providers who share similar responsibilities to doctors. NPs can specialize in specific care, or they can serve as primary care providers. General responsibilities include examining patients, prescribing medication, diagnosing conditions and illnesses, providing treatment, and ordering diagnostic tests.

Nursing Specialities

At the beginning of a nurse practitioner program, students can choose to specialize by patient population. Besides core courses, at the initial stage of learning, students can pick a population focus so that they can broaden their knowledge and expand their skill set to suit their specialism of choice.

Popular Nurse Practitioner Roles

With a specific nursing program, nurse practitioner students can become skilled in specific NP roles. Here are a few of the most popular specialty nurse practitioner careers.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family Nurse practitioners (FNPs) work with families, individuals, and communities by offering primary health care services. Their role often involves acting as a primary care provider for an extended period of time, which means that many FNPs develop long-term relationships with their patients. Getting to know individuals over an extended amount of time can be incredibly rewarding for FNPs.

Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

With an average annual salary of $125,000‍, psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) are paid the most out of all of the nurse practitioner specialties. PMHNPs work with people of all ages and help people with their mental health. They treat patients with various behavioral issues, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse disorders, and they can prescribe medication. PMHNPs can use both therapeutic and medication measures to help their patients.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners specialize in caring for sick newborns and premature babies. They diagnose their issues, draw up treatment plans and prescribe medication. In certain circumstances, they are also able to assist with delivering patients.

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

This specialist nurse practitioner role focuses on women’s health, and it involves providing comprehensive care for women. A women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) role centers around reproductive health, gynecology, and obstetrics.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) earn an average salary of $110,000 per year, making them one of the most highly paid NP specialists. They are advanced practice registered nurses who care for children from infancy through to young adulthood. PNPs have the opportunity to specialize further by service or body system, such as surgery or pediatric cardiology. The role ranges from performing regular examinations to diagnosing conditions and illnesses.

Work Environment

Licensed nurse practitioners can benefit from working in many different healthcare settings. This can include in major hospitals, at private practices, health departments, at schools and colleges, within a physician’s office, and at community clinics. Nurse practitioners can work in many different medical settings, including people’s homes for home health care agencies.

How Can I Become A Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is not an entry-level nursing role; they are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) and must go through specific training to qualify as an NP. To become a nurse practitioner, there are a few steps you must take.

Necessary Qualifications

To become a nurse practitioner, you must be a registered nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN). There are plenty of courses registered nurses can take to broaden their knowledge. However, it is essential that you enroll in a program from a trustworthy institution. When doing your research into suitable programs, look out for an accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Nurses with an ADN can progress to a BSN, the next educational level, or they can directly enroll in a graduate program such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Earn A Master’s Degree

The easiest way for registered nurses with a BSN to become a nurse practitioner is by earning an MSN. A well-structured MSN program will equip you with advanced nursing skills and a good fundamental background to go further. It is an advanced post-graduate level degree, and it usually takes at least two years to complete. These programs are accessible for registered nurses with a BSN degree. However, registered nurses without bachelor’s degrees can enroll in other programs if they want to skip the BSN stage. For example, programs such as RN-to-MSN or ADN-to-MSN can accelerate your learning and fast-track your nursing career.

Post-Master’s FNP Certificate

With Carson-Newman University, you can earn a post master’s FNP certificate online to help you develop your advanced nursing expertise. This program takes two years or less to complete and is taught online by nurse educators. The Post-Master’s FNP Certificate Program is great for nurses with an MSN who are preparing for their family nurse practitioner certification exam. Students can achieve their full nursing potential and will be given clinical placements and offered pre-approved preceptors.

Nurse Practitioner Certification

The final step to becoming a nurse practitioner is to obtain the correct nurse practitioner state licensure. The specifics for nurse practitioner licensure differ depending on the state you wish to practice in. Before going ahead with a program, it is vital that you do some thorough research into how you can legally practice as a nurse practitioner.

Study Online

Registered nurses who already work in a full-time role can benefit from earning their degree online from a reputable institution. Rather than putting your work on hold to go back to college, earning an online degree will allow you to make a living while progressing your career at the same time. Online learning enables individuals to balance their home life with work commitments while studying at their own pace.

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