The valuable impact of nurse practitioners in the healthcare system has created a greater demand for them. A nurse practitioner, quite simply, is a registered nurse who has undertaken an advanced degree in nursing.
A nurse practitioner is trained to assess patients, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, make conclusive diagnoses and even prescribe medications and treatment plans. Nurse practitioners bring a comprehensive approach to healthcare as they also focus on health promotion and disease prevention by providing counseling to patients and community members. As a result of this expanded role, hospitals with more inpatient nurse pra ctitioners have lower surgical mortality, lower cost of care, and more satisfied patients.
If greater control of your patient outcomes appeals to you, but you also enjoy the proximity to patients that nursing affords you, you might want to consider a role as a nurse practitioner.
How do you become a nurse practitioner?
Becoming a nurse practitioner is not as difficult as you would imagine. To qualify as a nurse practitioner you need to:
- Become a registered nurse
The first step to becoming a nursing practitioner is to qualify as a registered nurse. You cannot become a nurse practitioner without first training and practicing as an RN. To become an RN, you must have earned a nursing degree and taken the national council licensure exam.
- Gain practical experience as a registered nurse
After qualifying as a registered nurse, you must practice for at least two years, which would qualify you to apply for a graduate course. You should try to practice in the area you want to specialize in to give yourself a head start in your career as a nurse practitioner. If you want to qualify as a GP, you need to complete a three-year degree in primary healthcare. This can be done either full or part time, and you will also need to complete a year of supervised clinical practice.
- Apply for a graduate course
Once you have the required years of experience, you can apply for an advanced degree in nursing. While you can qualify as a nurse practitioner with a master’s degree in nursing, the preferred approach is to get a graduate degree with a key area of focus. Fortunately, online programs such as the UIndy online DNP-AGPCNP program exist to accommodate the needs of working nurses who want to get advanced training in adult-gerontology primary care.
- Get certified
After concluding your degree and completing the required clinical placement program, you must take the certification exams. You might need to take both the state licensing and board certification exams. The exam requirements may vary depending on your location.
However, you should note that if you want to specialize in a particular area as a nurse practitioner, you will need to undergo additional training and take different exams.
What career opportunities can you pursue as a nurse practitioner?
As a nurse practitioner, you can focus on different specialties of care which include:
- Family nurse practitioner
A family nurse practitioner provides treatment for minor injuries, conducts diagnostic tests, performs routine exams, and is responsible for developing and implementing treatment for different conditions. Family nurse practitioners also deal with prenatal care, but they can treat patients of all ages presenting with different conditions.
- Pediatrics nurse practitioner
Pediatric nurse practitioners specialize in caring for younger patients from childhood to adolescence. Pediatric nurse practitioners deal with regular check-ups and vaccinations for children, and they also provide health information on healthy living for their patients. If you love working with children and are comfortable communicating with infants, you should strongly consider this specialty.
- Acute care pediatric nurse practitioner
Just like pediatric nurses, acute care pediatric nurse practitioners work with children. The key difference is that they provide treatment to children with chronic conditions or critical illnesses. As an acute care NP, you must be comfortable working in high-pressure environments such as the ICU. You must also learn teamwork, as intensive care requires the best team synergy.
- Psychiatric nurse practitioner
Psychiatric nurse practitioners work with patients with diagnosed psychiatric conditions. Psychiatric nurse practitioners must have a deep understanding of human psychology to provide treatment for their patients. They also work to promote mental wellness and rehabilitation.
- Acute care adult-gerontology nurse practitioner
Acute care adult-gerontology nurse practitioners provide care for chronic conditions and acute illnesses affecting adults. They can perform critical healthcare procedures, especially as it relates to intensive care. They also provide other specialists with assistance in the treatment of adult acute conditions.
Becoming a nurse practitioner is not an easy feat, but it is achievable with the right amount of dedication and hard work. If you are passionate about nursing and want to make a difference in the lives of others, then becoming a nurse practitioner might be the perfect career path for you. There is a high demand for nurse practitioners, and the job outlook is very promising. With the right training and experience, you can pursue a successful career as a nurse practitioner.