Nurse Practitioner Programs Elevate Nursing Care to New Heights

Nurse practitioner programs provide the chance for nurses to advance the art and science of nursing practice beyond the standard. The nurse practitioner (NP) fills an expanded role in nursing care through higher education and training.

This role was borne out of the shortage of nurses and primary health care providers in the United States during the 1960s. NP’s were designed to deliver primary care for under served populations nationwide. Thus, it is considered an expansion of the care giving role of all nurses.

All nurse practitioner programs require at least a diploma, ADN, or a BSN degree. A few schools allow students with non-nursing backgrounds to complete a bridge curriculum to earn their BSN or MSN, and finally their NP degree. Most programs nowadays have set a minimum entry requirement of a master of science in nursing (MSN) for applicants. There is a proposal for a stricter minimum requirement of a doctor of nursing degree for this program. Minimum GPA and GRE scores and nursing experience are also often required.

Typical tuition ranges from $10,000 to $30,000. There are federal and state student loans that can be availed by students. Schools also offer scholarships to offset some of the cost. Nurses find the money spent to be well worth it because the earning potential of NP’s is huge. The usual duration of study is two years. The curriculum covers basic nursing theory, nursing administration and health teaching. But the bulk of the course work consists of the particular area the student is interested in.

The applicant needs to assess her nursing education and background to determine what specialty is most suited for him or her. The type of learning – online, classroom, or a combination of both – must also be considered. The student should also determine if the NP specialty matches his or her career goals.

Students can choose from a wide variety of nursing specialties. Some of these are community nursing, geriatric care nursing, oncology nursing, women’s health, home health nursing, psychiatric nursing, and family nurse practitioner programs. There are also sub-specialties available such as occupational health nursing, orthopedic nursing, and cardiovascular nursing.

Nurse practitioner programs are taught how to record medical histories, perform complete physical assessment, order and interpret laboratory results, teach and counsel patients and their families, and prescribe medications within certain legal limits. These skills and responsibilities can be practiced after graduating from the NP program and getting certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

After getting certified, NP’s practice mostly in the community setting. They can be found in clinics, physicians’ offices, health centers, and nursing homes, where they focus on patient teaching, health promotion, and disease prevention. NP’s in hospitals are usually managers of specialty areas.

Graduates of NP programs become valuable health care professionals in the community and other settings. Future graduates of these programs face excellent opportunities in the job market because of the nursing shortage and the skill set that they offer. Nurses can achieve autonomy, increased earning potential, job satisfaction, and nursing expertise by completing nurse practitioner programs.

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