Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who have received special courses and training.

They usually work closely with doctors and can perform many high-level primary care tasks. They often specialize in specific types of practice such as pediatrics, psychiatry, or obstetrics. Some establish private practices; however, most work in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or neighborhood health centers.Their duties often include taking detailed medical histories and performing complete physical exams, providing diagnoses and recommending treatment plans, treating common medical conditions, illnesses, and injuries, prescribing limited medications, and counseling patients and families. They also care for patients with chronic diseases, order and interpret lab tests and x-rays as needed, and provide health maintenance, health education and prevention for children and adults, and provide prenatal care and family planning.

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Nurse practitioners work in rural and urban settings, such as public health departments, community health centers, hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing homes, HMOs, student health clinics, and home health agencies. Where state law permits, nurse practitioners may establish their own offices for independent practice. Work hours for these professionals often exceed the usual eight-hour day as they are the primary provider of patient care and may be required to be on call to manage patient problems.

To become a nurse practitioner or NP, individuals must first earn their registered nurse or RN credentials.The two main paths to becoming a registered nurse are earning an associate’s degree in nursing or ADN or a bachelor of science in nursing or BSN. Graduates of either of these degree programs must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs or NCLEX-RN to earn a state license to practice as a RN. Although the ADN offers a faster path to becoming an RN, individuals considering becoming nurse practitioners should consider going directly to the BSN program. A master’s degree is required to become certified as an NP, and most graduate nursing programs require applicants to have a BSN.

Therefore, the fastest route to becoming a nurse practitioner is to complete the BSN in four years and the master’s degree in nursing in two years, for a total of six years of education. However, many students take five years to complete the BSN, and many advanced nursing programs also require that applicants have at least a year of professional experience as RNs. As a result, even the most direct path to becoming an NP can take seven or eight years. As stated above, individuals must already have a state license as a registered nurse to study to become a nurse practitioner.Upon completion of a graduate-level nursing program, most nurse practitioners take national certification exams in their areas of specialty. Board certification is offered by several different organizations, including the ACNM Certification Council (ACC), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Nurses (NCBPNP/N) and the National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties (NCC).Becoming a Nurse Practitioner is a very appealing career choice for registered nurses, but getting into a Master’s in Nursing program at a local school of nursing is extremely difficult these days, and earning a Master’s degree online may not seem like the smartest option.

In fact, becoming a Nurse Practitioner by earning a Master’s in Nursing degree online has distinct advantages over taking classes in a physical setting. The average annual nurse practitioner salary is $85,200 with some earning as much as $113,000 a year.There are various types of nurse practitioners and each type earns its own level of salary. A family nurse practitioner salary, for example, hovers around the $65,790 to $85,404 range. Advanced registered nurse practitioners, on the other hand, earn between $64,203 and $84,528, while a women’s health nurse practitioner salary can range between $67,148 and $85,004. Nurse practitioners working in family medicine settings earn between $68,458 and $87,107 a year while nurse practitioners working in hospitals generally earn from $68,213 to $87,804 in annual nurse practitioner salary.Those that are working in healthcare receive $68,076 to $87,376 and those working in medical offices earn between $68,371 and $87,411. There is great variety in the level of salary that each nurse practitioner receives, and this depends on a number of factors.

The geographical location and the work setting affect your nurse practitioner salary, but the two most important aspects are your education and training, as well as your work experience as a nurse practitioner.Nurse Practitioners need to be critical thinkers: they must obtain relevant information about a person’s health status from a wide variety of sources, such as the patient’s verbal communication, clinical examination, and diagnostic tests, and use that data to independently make evidence-based decisions about when, why, and how to address health care needs. They also need to be able to cope well with stress, since their work includes direct involvement with human suffering, emergencies, and other pressures.If anyone is going into this field, they should know that there is a growing national movement to require all Nurse Practitioners to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This degree is called a practice doctorate and is similar to the academic credentials earned by dentists, physicians, clinical psychologists clinical pharmacists and other health care providers. DNP programs require 3 to 4 years study beyond a bachelor’s degree in nursing.Nurse Practitioner educational programs include graduate-level courses in health sciences, such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, and epidemiology, and courses in the diagnosis and clinical management of health and illness.

Students also complete several semesters of supervised clinical practice, to demonstrate competency in providing health care. Graduates from these programs are eligible to sit for national board examinations to become certified. Nursing is the largest health-care occupation, with more than two million jobs.Overall, it’s one of the 10 occupations projected to have the largest numbers of new jobs. Nurse practitioners are in high demand to provide health promotion, health maintenance and sick-care services. According to the American Nurses Association, approximately 60 to 80 percent of primary and preventive care can be performed by nurse practitioners.

The growing emphasis on prevention and public health will continue to create excellent job opportunities for nurse practitioners.


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