When getting a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), students are asked to choose one of four routes: Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Becoming an NP is the most popular choice for RNs, as this educational path opens nurses up to working in numerous areas of medicine. NPs are typically clinicians, rather than working in research, education, or administration.
Overview of a MSN – Nurse Practitioner Program
- Students train to work in advanced positions, such as working as a head nurse or even heading a practice of their own.
- Students learn to perform comprehensive health assessments; conduct risk analyses; provide patient education and counseling to promote wellness; diagnose and treat common health problems; and maximize the functional and self-care abilities of individuals of all ages.
- The curriculum is designed to give students clinical experiences and knowledge in health promotion, pathophysiology, physical/assessment diagnosis, and acute/chronic illness management.
- Coursework teaches students to work with certain age groups (pediatrics, adults, or geriatrics), patients dealing with a certain type of disease (like cancer), in a specific facility (like emergency rooms), or with one part of the body (like cardiology).
- Though clinical rotations and extensive practice, students prepare to diagnose and treat an extensive variety of health issues within certain age groups in several health care settings.
Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner
- Earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.
- Receive a Registered Nurse Certification.
- Enroll and complete a MSN Nurse Practitioner program from an accredited school like Capella University, Georgetown University, Kaplan University, South University, or University of Cincinnati.
- Obtain NP certification and proper licensure, which varies by state.
Nurse Practitioner Salary and Career Information
The job setting will vary depending on what specific job you get. Possible options include private practices, outpatient care centers, nursing homes, hospitals (intensive care unit), neonatal unit, internal medicine clinics, ambulatory care, and family practice offices. While it is generally not a prerequisite to find a job, membership with the American Nurses Association (ANA) can increase your employability. Other membership benefits include access to the continuing education library, annual conferences, news updates relevant to the field, savings on ANA books, professional liability insurance, and a vast network to connect with.
The average salary of nurse practitioners varies by location, experience, and the type of employer you have. For more information on your earning potential, please refer to our nursing job outlook page.
How can I become a nurse practitioner?
In order to work as a nurse practitioner, you’ll need an advanced degree. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a necessary prerequisite and a resume must-have for prospective hires. More information on these degree programs is outlined below:
- DNP: For registered nurses interested in a terminal degree in nursing practice that offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. Program length is typically 3-4 years.
- MSN: For registered nurses (RN) interested in advanced nursing practice in a specialized area. Program length is typically 2-3 years.
- MSN Bridge Programs: For associate degree and diploma nurses with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline to obtain an MSN. Program length is typically ~18 months.
Once you decide what degree best fits your educational and professional goals, your next step is to research schools. You should make sure that the school you choose is both accredited and offers the program you’re interested in. The following schools are popular options:
Grand Canyon University
Sacred Heart University