An Overview of Nurse Practioner Programs and Other Advanced Degrees

NP or nurse practioner programs are for registered nurses who would like to become advanced practice nurses or APNs. Other APNs include the CRNA, the CNS and the CNM. All of these nurses have earned master’s degrees. The difference has to do with their specialty.

The CRNA specializes in administering anesthesia during surgery. The CNS is a clinical specialist who could choose any number of areas on which to focus. Some popular choices are neurology, pediatrics, mental health and oncology.

The CNM is a certified nurse-midwife. The specialty entails providing pre-natal and postpartum care, along with delivering babies.

An NP is the nursing equivalent of a general practitioner, what we often refer to as a family doctor. Nurses holding this degree provide basic care for infections and injuries. They have the ability to write prescriptions.

They may go into private practice, work in a hospital or work with a group of physicians. Nurses holding the other APN degrees have similar options.
Many CNSs work as administrators, researchers, educators and consultants. Most NPs work primarily with patients.

To enter family nurse practioner programs, you must be an RN with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In addition to the courses needed to complete your chosen specialty, you will take general classes necessary to earn your master’s degree.

The cost of classes varies from one institution to another. The length of time it takes to complete the program depends on whether you can study full time or part time.

In some cases, you can complete the program in nine semesters, although much depends on the specialty you choose. Those nurses who wish to go into administration can complete their master’s in nine semesters. Fewer clinical courses and labs are required. Many of the courses can be completed online.

Family nurse practioner programs may take longer to complete. More clinical courses and labs are required. A combination of online and traditional classroom courses can be chosen. Online courses have made it easier for working nurses to continue and complete their education.

The NP salary is one of the best in the nursing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages for registered nurses in 2008 was $62,450. Some 10% of nurses earn more than $92,240 per year. Most high earners are APNs.

The Bureau predicts that APNs will be in high demand in the coming years. Nurse practioner programs will help fill the rising need for highly skilled nurses.

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