How Long Does It Take To Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Whether you are an RN or student going through nursing school, you may wonder how long does it take to become a nurse practitioner?

Well look at the years of college needed and the requirements to be a nurse practitioner.

We will also provide sample educational classes you take and list job duties for this advanced nursing position.

What degree do you need to be a nurse practitioner?

A NP will usually have an advanced, graduate degree, such as a masters, post-masters, or doctorate.

To get one, you have a couple options. Some schools require a bachelors of science in nursing before you can apply.

Other schools only require an associates degree but have an RN to masters degree in nursing program.

The education requirements for a nurse practitioner will take about two to three years to complete depending if the program is full-time or part-time.

But it prepares you for a myriad of advanced practice tasks and responsibilities, which include:

  • Perform physical exams
  • Take a patient history
  • Order labs and medical imaging
  • Diagnose, treat, and manage disease
  • Write prescriptions
  • Refer patients to specialists
  • Educate patients about healthy lifestyles, disease prevention

Nurse practitioners may work with or without a doctors supervision, but their scope of practice depends on the state in which they practice.

For instance, in some state, a NP can write scripts; in another, they cant.

Nurse practitioners are regulated at the state level, which means youll need to pass a certification exam after graduation, and regulated through national organizations, which makes sure standards of consistent professional practices are maintained throughout the states.

Because the laws of each state vary, the scope of practice varies, too. In some state, a nurse practitioner can practice independently of a physician. In other state an NP must work with a physician to prescribe medication or even to become licensed.

You will need a masters degree, which generally takes two years after a bachelors degree. So, in total, you will probably need to spend about six years working towards your goal.

Tips for finding a school

If you have chosen to become a nurse practitioner, you need to find an accredited school, which you can find by searching the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education database.

Theres about 350 schools offering these programs in the United States.

When choosing a program, you should research the school and find out what population or specialty it cater to.

You will notice that each university will specialize in certain population areas such as acute care, family care, pediatric, psychological or mental health care, neonatal, womens health.

Specialties may be broken down even further into orthopedics, emergency, cardiovascular, dermatology, gasteroenterology, neurscience, oncology, peri-operative, palliative care.

Its important for you to know which population and sub-specialty you are interested in because you dont want to pick a school that caters to family practice when you are more interested in acute or emergency care.

Another factor to consider is attendance method. Should you consider nursing practitioner online schools or an on-campus only education?

Also, does the school offer the degree you seek and do you have the prerequisites met. (Some schools require a minimum amount of clinical hours in nursing before you can apply.)

Check the programs retention rate and certification rate. These are two factors that provide insight into the school.

After youve culled down the programs, consult with the program NP official who can provide much more detailed information and answer and questions you have.

Sample Nursing Practitioner Classes

If you are doing an RN to MSN program, you may have additional courses and requirements before you can take the advanced level courses like the ones listed below.

  • Theoretical Foundations of Nursing
  • Advanced Human Physiology
  • Advanced Human Pathophysiology
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Research in Advanced Nursing Practice (ANP)
  • Pharmacology for ANP
  • Applications of Epidemiology in ANP
  • Emerging Role in ANP
  • Diagnostic Tests, Interpretation, and Procedures for NPs
  • Advanced Health Assessment & Practicum
  • Health Policy and ANP
  • Clinical Management of Adults in Primary Health Care and Practicum
  • Advanced Management of the Pediatric Client & Practicum
  • Advanced Management of Womens Health & Practicum
  • Advanced Practicum & Role Synthesis

How much does a nurse practitioner make per year?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a nurse practitioner in 2012 was $89,960. This is equal to $43.25 per hour.

The lowest 10 percent of nurse practitioners earned less than $64,100 per year.

The state you practice in will also determine the amount of money you make.

For instance, the five states with highest median annual salary are Alaska at $112,090 yearly or $53.89 per hour; Hawaii at $104,690 or $50.33 per hour; Oregon at $103,280 or $49.66 an hour; Massachusetts at $102,340 or $49.20 an hour; New Jersey at $101,030 or $48.57.

The amount you make will also depend on the type of practice you work in. A medical and surgical hospital has an average median of $95,470 per year whereas a physicians office has an average median wage of 91,020 per year.

States that have the highest percentage of NPs include California, New York, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts. Florida is the only state that has a annual median salary, which is $86,840, lower than the national average.

Job outlook

A high paying job is useless if you cant find a job. But as baby boomers continue on their retirement craze, job opportunities will be there because of the sheer number of them needing care.

Also, nurse practitioners may serve as a primary care provider in rural areas much like a physician assistant. As more physicians specialize and refused to go into family practice, the need for advanced level nurses will grow so they can serve as PCPs.

I hope this answer the question about how long does it take to become a nurse practitioner.