What Is A Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner is any registered nurse, or RN, that has chosen to expand their knowledge and become a specialist in a specific area of nursing. For example you could become a nurse practitioner (also referred to as advanced practice nurses, or APNs) in the area of pediatrics (where you will be an expert in illnesses and injuries that occur most commonly in children). This will require a fair amount of additional training and study, but once you are a nurse practitioner in a specialized field you will have greater employment opportunities.
Nature Of The Work/duties
The nature of your work and your duties will depend on the particular area you choose to specialize in. according to http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/doctor/nurse_practitioner.html if you specialize in pediatrics you will do the following:
- Document health history and perform a physical exam
- Plan a child’s care with parents and the child’s health care team
- Perform some tests and procedures
- Answer questions about health problems
- Treat common childhood illnesses
- Assist with management of chronic illnesses
- Change the plan of care with a child’s doctor as needed
- Teach families about the effects of illness on a child’s growth and development
- Teach kids about self-care and healthy lifestyle choices
- Write prescriptions
- Order medical tests
- Teach other health care members and local groups about children’s health care
- Provide referrals to community groups
As a nurse practitioner there are a variety of different areas in which you can be employed. The specialties that you can pursue are endless and include the following:
- Family practice
- Primary care
- School health
- Women’s health
In any of these employment settings you may be allowed to work without the supervision of a doctor. This is one of the main reasons why people choose to become nurse practitioners: they are allowed a greater degree of autonomy. The level of self-reliance that you develop is something that will translate to all walks of life. There are employment opportunities for every personality when it comes to being a nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Requirements
As with all areas of nursing there are a number of requirements you will have to adhere to if you are to become a nurse practitioner in a particular filed. You will need:
- A master’s degree in nursing (MS or MSN)
- Board certification in their specialty
On general being a nurse practitioner requires that you have advanced education, skills, and training in the area that you wish to work in as an expert and this will require you to engage in quite a lo0t of additional training and certification. You will also need to, generally speaking, be an RN before you can get board certification, so if you are an LPN at this point, you will have to qualify as an RN first.
To be a nurse practitioner you will need the following personality traits:
- A Caring Nature: As you will be working with patients who are in a very delicate state both mentally and physically you will need to be caring (as well as empathic – the next point).
- A Detail-Oriented Personality
- Emotional Stability
- Physical Endurance: As a nurse you will be required to be on your feet a lot as well as to lift and carry patients, making physical endurance a top priority.
- Quick Thinking
- Great Judgment
- A Hard-Working Nature
- Great Communication Skills: Because you will need to speak with a variety of different people on a variety of different topics throughout your day, good communication skills are a must.
To receive certification as a nurse practitioner you need to be certified. The educational requirements are as follows:
- You must have an RN qualification (in most cases a master’s degree will be preferable).
- You must receive your national certification through organizations such as the American Nurses’ Association, or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (the organization that provides you with your certification will depend on the area of nursing that you choose to specialize in).
- To get this certification you must pass the certification exam (usually after completing a master’s degree in the area that you would like to specialize in).
The educational requirements for being a nurse practitioner are intensive and require that you spend many years achieving the level that you desire. However, considering the professional respect you will earn, it is worth it.
It must be noted that, when it comes to licensure, there are vastly different rules depending on which state you would like to operate in as a nurse practitioner. In addition it also depends on the specific area of nursing that you would like to be a nurse practitioner in. The requirements for licensure are becoming stricter as time passes. Most states now require a master’s degree as well as national certification in order to provide licensure to nurse practitioners, but again this differs significantly from state to state. What the license allows you to do can also differ from state to state. Some licenses will allow you to work completely independently, while others specify that you must work in conjunction with a doctor or another medical professional. This also varies from state to state.
How To Become A Nurse Practitioner
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
You will need:
- A baccalaureate training in nursing
- An RN licensure
- Experience as an RN for at least 1 to 2 years
If you have all f the above you are in a position to pursue training that will culminate in a nurse practitioner qualification. Decide on which of the many nursing specialties you would like to focus on and look for a program in your area that offers degree courses with a focus on the area of nursing that you have chosen to be a nurse practitioner in. complete your course work and sit the relevant examination. Once the examination is complete you will be able to apply at your state board of nursing for certification as a nurse practitioner in your particular area. The amount of time this takes will vary.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is essential that any programs that you attend in order to train for your nursing specialty are accredited. The same goes for your initial nursing program. You will waste your time and your money if you attend a program that is not accredited by your state’s board of nursing because you will need to attend another program from scratch if you still wish to receive your qualification. A list of the accredited programs in your area and for the qualification that you are interested in will be included n the website for your state’s board of nursing. This is the best and most reliable resource to consult when looking for confirmation regarding which programs are better than others for you to attend as a nursing student with a desire to specialize in a specific domain.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Your associate’s degree is the lowest degree that you can earn. In most cases you will need to get a bachelor’s or (usually) a master’s degree if you want to specialize in particular area of nursing and become a nurse practitioner in that regard. At the very best your associate’s degree can be looked on as a stepping stone to achieving your full qualification as a nurse practitioner. There is just such a high degree of training involved and knowledge that you need to digest for any nurse specialty that it is impossible to really get a grasp on a an area of nursing sufficiently with just an associate’s degree. The exact specifications regarding which degree you need will vary from specialty to specialty as well as from state to state so look into this carefully.
Obtain Your Licensure
In order to work as a nurse practitioner you will need to have a license in two main domains, namely as a:
- Nurse practitioner, and as a
- Registered nurse
Being licensed as a registered nurse is the same process for all nurses who would like that qualification. However to be licensed as a nurse practitioner you will have to go through a slightly different process. There are different nurse practitioner rules and regulations in each state, so you need to learn the requirements of the Nurse Practice Act of the state where you would like to practice. Generally speaking your licenses need to be renewed on a regular basis, usually with proof of continuing education. This differs from state to state, so you will need to find out the exact rules for your state.
Online/Distance Education Programs
It is possible to become a nurse practitioner online as you will realize very quickly if you do a quick search for online programs. Most nursing programs require hands-on training. However, because you have already completed an RN program and all of the hands-on training required for that, you will often find that nurse practitioner specialty programs do not require any additional hands-on training and that you will be able to simply do the theory training online. However you must make sure that the online program you choose is accredited, just as you would with any face to face or offline program, as you will still need to get the proper certification and so on in order to practice as a nurse practitioner with that particular specialty in a real health care setting.
Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook
Because about 80% of any nursing job can be performed by a nurse practitioner there are a huge number of job opportunities for them. Because the health care industry is one that is always growing, and because there will always be a need for specialists in this arena, this is one of the most stable jobs that you could hope to have. The following is an approximation of how many nurse practitioners are employed in various different settings:
- Physician’s offices – 48%
- Home health care services – 33%
- Nursing care facilities – 25%
- Employment services – 24%
If you want to become a well respected medical professional with great job prospects and a good salary you should definitely consider becoming a nurse practitioner in an area of nursing that you are particularly interested in.
Nurse Practitioner Earnings
The average salary you can earn as a nurse practitioner is $61,228 – $100,513 with the possibility of an annual bonus of $0.00 – $9,831, brining your possible total pay to $62,574 – $106,698 a year. This does of course depend on the exact industry you work in. Some of the popular industries will earn you the following salaries:
- Healthcare will earn you a salary of about $60,179 – $99,413 a year
- Family Medicine will earn you a salary of about $60,748 – $99,258 a year
- Hospital will earn you a salary of about $61,327 – $101,462 a year
- Medical Services will earn you a salary of about $59,831 – $100,887 a year
- Medical Office will earn you a salary of about $58,896 – $98,360 a year
Aspiring towards being a nurse practitioner is one of the more sensible things that you can do as an LPN or as an RN there are a number of benefits to having this elevated status such as :
- An increase in pay
- An increase in autonomy, and
- And increase in respect from your colleagues and other health care professionals.
There are few areas of the employment sector that will offer as many opportunities as this one. Although it will take a long time to earn the qualification and although the course work will be strenuous, the end result is certainly worth the time and effort that you put in.