Welcome to OnlineNursePractitionerPrograms.com: your complete guide to nurse practitioner degree programs. Our blog is maintained by Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN, who is a registered nurse and bestselling author of Nursing from Within. Below, you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions as well as support resources to help you find the information you need.

  1. How can I become a nurse practitioner?
  2. What classes will I take as a graduate nursing student?
  3. What are popular career specializations for nurse practitioners?
  4. What are the nursing licensure requirements and average salaries in my state?

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:

SchoolPrograms

Kaplan University

Accreditation
  • HLC
  • NCA

Simmons College

Accreditation
  • NEASC

Bradley University

Accreditation
  • HLC

Walden University

Accreditation
  • HLC

Click here to see more nurse practitioner degrees.


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What classes will I take as a graduate nursing student?

As a graduate student, you’ll be required to take a certain number of courses that cover a variety of topics. These topics range from nurse leadership to clinical research. You’ll also enroll in courses in your area of specialty.

The courses listed below are common among many graduate nursing programs:

Healthcare Policy and Regulation

Focuses on policy and legislative issues that affect the delivery of healthcare. Topics may include current political and ethical factors affecting healthcare policy formation, the role of advanced practice nurses in affecting health policy formation, and the economic variables affecting healthcare access in various populations.

Skills Learned

  • A working knowledge of the complexities of healthcare policy and medical decision-making.
  • How to interpret and communicate evolving healthcare policy issues to patients, providers, and families.

Advanced Concepts in Pharmacology

Builds on a foundation of basic pharmacology to provide students with advanced theoretical knowledge of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacotherpaeutics of drug groups. Topics may include prescription guidelines, drug interactions and side effects, and how government regulatory agencies evaluate them.

Skills Learned

  • How to better detect and respond to adverse drug reactions and how they can be prevented and managed.
  • How to prescribe, administer, and evaluate pharmacological treatment regimes. (Depending on which state you practice in, nurse practitioners may have the ability to prescribe medications.

Health Care Ethics

These courses teach students about patient-provider relationships, legal and ethical issues and moral judgment in more advanced and/or complicated settings. Topics often include issues that arise in the practice of healthcare professionals, such as staffing issues, incompetent, protection of personal health information, professional boundaries, and work ethic.

Skills Learned

  • How to handle refusal of care, the discharge of a difficult patient, and conflict of care due to religious or cultural beliefs.
  • How to improve the ethical environment at work and to better promote and protech the rights, health, and safety of all patients.

Healthcare Delivery Systems and Innovation

Prepares students with the knowledge necessary to use today’s advanced information systems in order to create more efficient and productive healthcare environments. Nurses must be up to speed with today’s healthcare management systems and patient health-recording tools.

Skills Learned

  • A more advanced working knowledge of how use patient documentation systems and other healthcare-related electronic recordkeeping.
  • How to use technology to improve patient care and outcomes as well to enhance the digital competence of nursing.

Research for Evident-Based Practice

Prepares students to conduct and evaluate evidence-based research as well as how to use a variety of research designs and statistical methods. Topics typically discussed include how evidence-based research can be used in health promotion, how to incorporate findings into clinical practice, and what new contributions have been made to the profession.

Skills Learned

  • How to better analyze and apply research findings into clinical practice and care delivery.
  • How to write evidence-based questions, develop an evidence-based protocol, and propose method for implementing the protocol.

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What are popular career specializations for nurse practitioners?

Nurse practitioners must choose an area of specialty in which to work and become certified in this particular field. Below we’ve listed more detailed information about the most common areas of specialty:

Area of Specialty: Certification:
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) exam
Adult Health Nurse Practitioner (ANP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Adult Health Nurse Practitioner (ANP-BC) exam
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) Complete an MSN program; pass the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM-BC) exam
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Complete an MSN program; pass the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS-BC) exam
Emergency Medicine Nurse Practitioner (ENP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Emergency Medicine Nurse Practitioner (ENP-BC) exam
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC) exam
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP-BC) exam
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC) exam
Oncology Nurse Practitioner (ONP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Oncology Nurse Practitioner (ONP-BC) exam
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-BC) exam
Psychiatry and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Psychiatry and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) exam
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Complete an MSN program; pass the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) exam

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What are the nursing licensure requirements and average salaries in my state?

Each state offers a variety of degree programs that prepare individuals to become nurse practitioners. Click on your location below to find useful salary information, certification criteria, nursing board regulations, and a list of nurse training programs in your area.

AlabamaIndianaNebraskaSouth Carolina
AlaskaIowaNevadaSouth Dakota
ArizonaKansasNew HampshireTennessee
ArkansasKentuckyNew JerseyTexas
CaliforniaLouisianaNew MexicoUtah
ColoradoMaineNew YorkVermont
ConnecticutMarylandNorth CarolinaVirginia
DelawareMassachusettsNorth DakotaWashington
FloridaMichiganOhioWashington, D.C.
GeorgiaMinnesotaOklahomaWest Virginia
HawaiiMississippiOregonWisconsin
IdahoMissouriPennsylvaniaWyoming
IllinoisMontanaRhode Island

Both your location and education can affect your income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a nurse practitioner can make as much as $100,000 per year. Not only will continuing your education give you more tools to help people, but it can also increase your overall salary potential.

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