If you’re looking into a nursing occupation, you already know that you want to care for people, but how do you decide if nurse practitioner education is right for you? The first thing to do is look at all the possibilities for training, economics, and occupational outlook.
Becoming a nurse practitioner is a step up in education and responsibility from an LPN or an RN. While the wide variety of occupational areas is still there, you are now boosting your profession to the level of diagnostician. These professionals work in hospitals, health clinics, and doctor’s offices, but diagnose their own patients, write prescriptions, and order patient care.
Depending on whether you are in a hospital, clinic, or specialty area of medical practice, as a nurse practitioner you might be called upon to regularly perform many of the following duties:
- Ordering routine tests and taking case history information for diagnosis
- Performing routine incisions and sutures, drainage and wound care, and tissue biopsies
- Executing nasal intubations into the stomach, and gastric analysis
- Testing for insulin and glucose tolerance
- Ordering lab studies and prescribing routine medications
There is a rigorous standard for training to accompany this higher level of responsibility, but if caring for people is your gift, it’s worth it to get the extra one- or two-year master’s degree training required to be able to serve your chosen community more comprehensively.
So, what’s involved in nurse practitioner education that differs from LPN or RN training? Most programs require prospective students to have registered nurse licensure and to have practiced as an RN for about two years.
Master’s level programs add several hours of advanced pharmacology to the RN base of knowledge, along with intensive practice each semester in different areas. There is practicum in pediatric care, adult care, child health, and care of at-risk populations. All courses are progressively more complex than those offered in registered nurse training.
Some good news for prospective students is that some or all of a master nurse practitioner education may be attained online while continuing to work as an RN. There are an abundance of approved quality online MSN programs, which can be worked at part time or full time.
Upon completion of the master’s degree in nursing, national certification by exam is required. There are several national nursing organizations approved to certify nurse practitioners. Two such organizations are the American Nurses’ Association and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
Some associations are specialty certifying organizations for neonatal, pediatric, obstetric, and gynecological practice certification. Certification exams are administered throughout the country and cost around $300.
According to the Department of Labor, the median hourly wage of an RN is about $31, and when you become a nurse practitioner it can jump to $45. Of course, the bump up to master’s level in any profession offers a higher earning potential.
One of the most compelling things about pursuing nurse practitioner education, aside from the value of working with patients directly, is the economic advantage it offers. By acquiring advanced education, registered nurses can re-invent themselves and open new and exciting pathways.