Nursing is a promising field with a growing demand for skilled professionals with advanced expertise and education. It is one of the fastest-growing healthcare careers, and skilled nurse practitioners’ demand is higher than ever. This increased demand stems from an acute shortage of physicians and heightened reliance on nurses to improve patient care quality.
People often undermine a nurse’s significance, regarding them as inferior subordinates with little autonomy or responsibility. That’s not true at all. Nurse practitioners are highly skilled and well-educated medical professionals responsible for delivering primary care and high-level diagnostic and treatment services.
Today, nurse practitioners enjoy rewarding and flourishing careers that offer financial stability and job security. However, becoming a nurse practitioner requires commitment, dedication, and consistency. Aspirants need to prepare themselves for 6-8 years of education, professional training, and skill-building.
Please keep reading to understand how long it takes to become an experienced and gifted nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioners: Responsibilities & Duties
Before we map out the career path and academic journey, let’s examine a nurse practitioner’s responsibilities. As a licensed medical professional, a nurse practitioner assigns enormous responsibility, treatment authority, and professional autonomy. Nurse practitioners examine patients, make diagnoses, design treatments, prescribe medicinal drugs, and evaluate treatment outcomes.
These medical professionals possess similar skills and responsibilities as physicians. Nurse practitioners enjoy full practice authority across 20 states in the US. Today, nurse practitioners can provide medical services without the supervision of a doctor or physician. Nursing opportunities come to professionals who prioritize their education and continue pursuing higher academic degrees.
In recent years, nursing professionals are increasingly pursuing BSN to masters in nursing online. E-learning opens up lucrative opportunities for academic advancement and career growth for ambitious nurses going for leadership roles.
Nurse practitioners enjoy great authority and significance within a nursing team. The exact responsibilities depend on their workplace norms and specializations. It can take around 6-8 years of education and supervised training to adopt this career path. Let’s explore the steps you can take to become a successful nurse practitioner.
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner
Essentially, the journey revolves around three significant milestones, listed below:
- Completing a Registered Nurse (RN) program (2-4 years)
- Pursuing a Master’s Degree (2-3 years)
- Clearing the APRN certification exam (6-12 months)
Pursuing a Registered Nurse (RN) Program
Pursuing and completing a registered nurse (RN) program is the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner. Aspirants can undertake an RN program after pursuing a nursing diploma, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN). A diploma or associate degree will require 2-3 years, while a BSN degree program requires four years of education.
Aspirants can explore five different kinds of BSN degrees to qualify as a nurse practitioner. Here, take a look:
- LPN-to-BSN: It is an ideal program for licensed vocational or licensed practical nurses. LPN-to-BSN programs allow aspirants to complete a BSN program within two years or four semesters.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A bachelor of science in a nursing program doesn’t require any licensure, academic training, or nursing experience. It’s a 4-year degree program that offers a streamlined route to higher nursing education.
- RN-to-BSN: It is a program designed for registered nurses with a diploma or associate degree. An RN-to-BSN degree usually requires two years of academic training.
- Accelerated Degree BSN: Those looking for a fast-track alternative to avail their BSN without spending four years can consider this option. An accelerated degree BSN requires around 12-20 months of academic training.
- Second-degree BSN: If you have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject, a second-degree BSN facilitates a smooth career change. It is a 2-year degree program that will help you shift your focus to nursing.
Nursing professionals can explore a wide array of courses and majors in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. For instance, disease prevention, diagnostic measures, genetics, physical health, treatment designs, and more. After completing their RN programs, aspirants must clear the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to qualify for licensure.
Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)
After completing an undergraduate degree and obtaining licensure, aspirants need to complete an MSN program. An MSN degree holds great significance because it allows nursing professionals to carve out a specialization. Some common specializations for an MSN degree include:
- Neonatal medicine
- Family nurse practitioner
- Adult care
- Gerontology nursing
- ER nursing
- Women’s health practitioner
- Primary care practitioner
An MSN degree typically takes around 2-3 years, and nurses can explore a wide array of courses and specializations. They undergo advanced training in pharmacology, healthcare policy, clinical practices, and ethical values.
Clearing the APRN Certification Exams
The last and final step requires aspiring nurse practitioners to take and clear the APRN certification exam. The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) typically requires a year of studying and sitting for the exam. Aspirants need to complete at least 500 clinical hours under a physician’s supervision to qualify for the APRN.
Becoming a nurse practitioner may seem overwhelming. The prospects of studying for 6-8 years always seem challenging, but once you start, the journey is too rewarding to stop. Higher education empowers a nurse with skills, knowledge, and training that increases his/her significance in healthcare settings. The effort and hard work will pay off splendidly!