How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

The nursing profession is an essential part of the healthcare field that focuses on providing quality care to patients. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses that serve as primary and specialty healthcare providers.

What does a nurse practitioner do?

Nurse practitioners provide care to many different patients and their families. They work closely with physicians to provide high quality care. They closely observe patients and evaluate their conditions, obtain medical histories, perform thorough physical examinations, order and perform diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications. They diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions, infections, illnesses, and diseases. Some nurse practitioners perform minor surgical procedures. Nurse practitioners often focus on preventing illness and providing essential education to patients to promote overall health and wellness. They provide counseling services to patients and advise them on treatment options.

What kind of training does a nurse practitioner need?

Nurse practitioners must have at least a master degree in nursing and be licensed registered nurses. Most employers prefer candidates that have at least two years of clinical experience as a registered nurse. Prospective nurse practitioners typically complete courses such as advanced anatomy, pharmacology, medical ethics and law, and diagnosis and treatment of common conditions. They also receive hands-on clinical experience in healthcare settings working closely with experienced nurse practitioners and physicians. Nurse practitioners must pass a licensing examination administered by the state or national organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. They also typically need to gain national certification in a specialty area such as family practice, pediatrics, cardiology, gynecology, or mental health. Nurse practitioners must complete continuing education to keep their skills up to date and maintain their licenses and certifications.

What are the prospects for a career as a nurse practitioner?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for advanced nursing care will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be excellent especially for nurse practitioners with extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace nurse practitioners that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do nurse practitioners make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of nurse practitioners earn annual salaries between $76,571 and $90,253. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $96,502 (2).

A career as a nurse practitioner is an excellent choice for individuals interested in providing advanced nursing care to a variety of patients. Nurse practitioners must have a solid understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of conditions. Patience, motivation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. Nurse practitioners must have excellent bedside manner and ability to effectively interact with many different patients and other healthcare professionals. They must be able to work in stressful conditions and make quick decisions during emergency situations.

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