How To Begin A Career As A Nurse Practitioner

Working in the medical field can be the dream of those looking to make a difference in their communities and beyond. As we've seen in recent years, those who work in the medical field are an essential part of our society. Those on the front lines, and often the face you first see at the doctor's office, are nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners are often the face you see when go in to receive care, and they can even prescribe or diagnose you without the need of a doctor. Becoming a nurse practitioner can be a great way to practice medicine without having to go through the arduous process of becoming a doctor. Plus, nurse practitioners can earn a lofty salary. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $123,780 in 2021. This salary is similar to other positions such as physician assistants. However, just because the process of becoming a nurse practitioner is faster than that of becoming a doctor, it's still a lengthy process that requires both education and certifications.

Besides the need for certain degrees and licensing, one of the most significant requirements for nurse practitioners is empathy with patients.

Education you need to be a nurse practitioner

One of the most important requirements you need to become a nurse practitioner is a master's degree. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, you will need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and complete a nurse practitioner-specific masters or doctoral nursing program. You will also have to complete a nurse practitioner's board certification exam. adds that there are also specific programs that are just for those who have already completed a bachelor's degree and are looking to get their master's degree to become a nurse practitioner. These courses are perfect for those who may have stepped away from their studies after a while and are looking for a simpler path to becoming a nurse practitioner. Another option available is getting your Doctor of Nursing Practice. This degree is specific to if you are looking to obtain a leadership role as a nurse practitioner.

The educational requirements for a career as a nurse practitioner are similar to that of a typical educational journey. First, you must obtain your bachelor's degree in nursing and later obtain a master's or doctoral. If you've already obtained your bachelor's degree in a different area, you can take an accelerated BSN, which is a degree for this specific situation.

What licenses or certifications do you need?

Besides your educational requirements, there are other licenses and certifications you need to obtain before starting your career. 

The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences notes that after obtaining your bachelor's degree, you need to get your RN license. To obtain this license, you need to complete an application and succeed in the NCLEX-RN exam. To be able to be eligible for a graduate program, you need to successfully obtain your RN license. 

College Vine adds that after getting your RN license, you will need to get your state license. The requirements for your state license will depend on the state you are applying for and can vary. Once you've completed your graduate program, you will need to once again apply for a state license. The state license will also vary and could require more coursework or clinical experience. In the advanced nurse practitioner program, you will also have to choose a concentration or area where you would like to practice. This will determine the type of exam you receive and you may also practice multiple concentrations. 

At the end of the day, the role of a nurse practitioner is essential to society, but requires plenty of education and coursework.