For those who enjoy helping people and working in a medical setting with considerable responsibility, a nurse practitioner may be the perfect career. If you become a nurse practitioner, not only will you enter a well-respected career, you’ll also enjoy one that offers stability and excellent compensation. The road this career is arduous, requiring study, practice and commitment, but the result is rewarding.
The Nurse Practitioner Position
To become a nurse practitioner is to achieve a position of responsibility that often involves supervision as well as patient care. Because of their advanced education in patient care techniques and strategies, nurse practitioners often function in place of doctors, according to Every Nurse. In fact, depending on the state, they can even have their own independent medical practice. Nurse practitioners can focus their career in specific areas such as psychiatry, obstetrics, pediatrics, internal medicine, oncology, women’s health, geriatric care, and more.
How to BECOME A NURSE PRACTITIONER
The first step is to get a nursing degree in an accredited college or university. These are typically 4-year programs, although a fifth year may be required to acquire the registered nurse (RN) degree. Courses in the basic education include pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, pediatric nursing, and community health. A clinical component, where students work in hospitals alongside staff nurses, is also required. After the RN comes graduate school. Depending on the program and specialization, this can take anywhere from two to three years resulting in either a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing. The types of courses in these programs include healthcare management, pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology.
Licensing Requirements for Practice Areas
Just about every state requires a nurse practitioner to take advanced education in one of four specialty areas which are nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist. The latter three specialties require additional training. The requirements vary by state and final licensing entails sitting for and passing a certification examination in the chosen specialty. The two national nursing organizations, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), offer the examinations used by most states.
Where Nurse Practitioners Work
Just like the specialties imply, nurse practitioners can work in a variety of settings. Some of these include hospitals, nursing home, long term care or rehabilitation facilities, independent practice, physician’s practice, teaching in nursing programs, or military nursing.
Nurse Practitioner Duties
The tasks performed by nurse practitioners are countless and varied. The duties common to all nurse practitioners include diagnosing and treating patients, prescribing medicines, developing plans for treating patients and ordering tests.
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The outlook for the future of the nurse practitioner field is bright. The number one reason for its significant growth is the aging of the huge Baby Boomer generation who will need care as they grow older. As a result, the need for nurse practitioners is rising, and along with that, so are salary rates.
The journey to become a nurse practitioner is not an easy one, but the end result is well worth the trip as you’ll enjoy a career with stability, substantial salary, and satisfaction.