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How to Become a Nurse Practitioner - Job Descriptions, Programs and Steps to Becoming an NP in a Specialty Area

Updated on September 16, 2015

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Would you like to know how to become a nurse practitioner? Here you will find out how becoming a nurse practitioner can open many doors for your nursing career when you become certified in a specialty area. You will also find out what exactly a nurse practitioner is and a job description of various specialty areas. Would you like to know the steps to become a nurse practitioner? The information is all on this page. Not only can becoming a nurse practitioner offer a rewarding career, a nurse practitioner salary offers much more financial stability. You can expect to make anywhere from $65,000 to almost $90,000 per year in salary as a nurse practitioner. Money magazine boosts that this hot career ranks in the top 10 professions in the United States.

A Nurse Practitioner is an Advanced RN Who Has Went on For Extensive Training

What is a Nurse Practitioner? Nurse Practitioner Programs and Specialty Areas

A Nurse Practitioner, also known as an NP or Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), is an individual who has furthered his or her education beyond becoming licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) and received either a master’s or doctoral degree. This may change within in a few years due to states pushing for NPs to hold only doctorate degrees instead of master degrees. The individual is also certified in a specialty field through the state nursing boards. Some specialty areas (Nurse Practitioner programs) for an NP are:

Acute Care – An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) works with individuals who are acute --- suffering from pain that lasts less than six weeks or those who are chronically in poor health or ill. The job of an ACNP involves stabilizing a patient, minimizing the pain that he or she is experiencing and restoring the patient back to utmost good health.

Adult Nurse – Adult Nurse Practitioner Program (ANP) works with primary care doctors. This type of practical nurse treats patients from the age of 12 all the way through old age. An ANP generally works in private doctor practices and various clinics.

Family Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) aid family care doctors in the treatment, diagnosis and examinations of patients. An FNP provides a broad variety of services for patients and may order screenings or administer immunizations.

Geriatrics – Geriatrics Nurse Practitioner (GNP) works with elderly individuals by providing treatments, medications, and expert care. Most GNPs work in hospitals, nursing homes or may even provide services in patient homes.

Mental Health/Psychiatric – A Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) works with people of all ages; however, an individual may focus on a sub-specialty area where he or she focuses on adolescent or primarily adults. He or she may work with individuals that suffer from various mental illnesses, addictions, sleep disorders or other neurological conditions. A PMHNP generally works in a mental institution, various types of clinics or a hospital setting.

Neonatal – A Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) generally works in level II or III NICU hospital settings. An NNP works with newborn babies and babies up until the ages of four weeks who are born premature, born with illness or are suffering from chronic illness.

Occupational Health/Environmental - Occupational and Environmental Health Adult Nurse Practitioners (OEH-ANP) work with individuals who are suffering from occupational illnesses or injuries. Hearing loss, chemical or toxic exposure, and similar common work related ailments.

Oncology – An Oncology Nurse Practitioner (ONP) works specifically with cancer patients. He or she provides treatment, prescribes medications and monitors patients that are battling cancer related illnesses.

Pediatrics – A Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner (PNP) works with patients from birth to the age of 21. A PNP may work in an adolescent clinic, community service facility, hospital, or even private practice or specialty clinics. There is also another emphasis under pediatrics where an RN may become certified as an Acute Care Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner (ACPNP).

Women’s Health – A Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) works with women of all ages in specialty areas of reproductive and gynecologic needs. A WHNP also provides assistance for women in other areas such as neonatal and postpartum treatment. Reproductive health is a strong emphasis for a Nurse Practitioner certified as a WHNP.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

1). Complete the necessary training to become a registered nurse (RN). Associate programs to become an RN generally take around two to three years to complete, where as, a BSN (bachelor’s degree) will take four to five years for completion. Keep in mind that your state may require that you have prior work experience before you can attend advanced training to becoming a nurse practitioner. Therefore, you may need to work as an RN for a year or more before advancement into a program.

2). Enter into a Nursing advanced training program where you can receive a master’s or doctorate degree either online or through a traditional brick and mortar university. Keep in mind that states are pushing for nurse practitioners to hold doctorate degrees; therefore, it is strongly recommended that you enter into a doctorate program. This can add on an additional three to four years of study.

3). Choose a specialty area from above or from the programs offered by your schooling of choice.

4). Discuss the state certification and licensing requirements with the Nursing department of your school. State board requirements vary; therefore, you will need to seek your school’s guidance. You will also need to discuss how to pursue your certification in your specialty area after you have completed the necessary training.

Tips: Seek out the guidance from the Financial Aid Department at you school. You may be eligible for additional financial aid through governmental programs.

How to Become a Practical Nurse - Career Highlights

References for the Creation of How to Become a Nurse Practitioner


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