How to Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

learn how to become a nurse practitionerNurse practitioners play a key role in the medical environment and provide advanced services to their patients. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts rapid growth in this in-demand field over the next few years. Nurse practitioners are in a larger category of health care professionals known as advanced practice registered nurses, where it is essential to enroll in nurse practitioner programs in order to gain the education and experience to begin working in this field.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?
Steps to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP)
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner after BSN
Types of Nurse Practitioners
GMercyU, Your Pathway to Success

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Most nurse practitioners begin with a two-year or four-year degree in nursing, and then spend a few years in the profession as a licensed practical or a registered nurse. These experiences can provide valuable perspective when taking on more responsibility as a nurse practitioner in private practice, clinical environment or in hospitals. Acquiring experience in real-world settings can often offer added support when applying to advanced practice nursing programs in addition to their nurse practitioner degree.

The job description nurse practitioner candidates can expect after graduation will vary considerably depending on the environment in which they perform their duties:

  • Research nurse practitioners generally work in clinics and laboratory environments
  • Some nurse practitioners are responsible for overseeing and supervising other nurses in a hospital or clinical setting
  • In rural or underserved areas, nurse practitioners may be the highest ranked health care professionals on site

Nurse practitioners also work in private practices supporting the work of physicians and performing routine examinations with or without supervision
Nurse practitioner salaries also vary widely. According to the BLS, the median range for the annual salaries nurse practitioner professionals can command is $98,190. This means that about half of all nurse practitioners made more than this amount in May 2015. Individuals who worked in hospitals typically made more; those involved in state, local and private education were among the lowest paid in this profession.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Depending on the route chosen, becoming a nurse practitioner can take between five and nine years. Most advanced practice registered nurse programs require that applicants have a diploma or associates degree in nursing prior to acceptance. Some nurse practitioners begin working in the medical field after completing a two-year educational program that allows them to obtain their registered nursing license; others opt for a four-year bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) program. In general, however, a master's degree is required to qualify for most nurse practitioner positions in the medical marketplace. Accelerated or online programs may be available to allow aspiring nurse practitioners to achieve success more quickly.

Steps to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

The process to become a nurse practitioner typically involves a few basic steps that include the following.

learn_howtobecomenursepracitioner.jpegStep 1: Enrolling in and completing an accredited associates degree in nursing program is usually the first step toward a career as a nurse practitioner. Students receive a thorough grounding in the basics of nursing care and are typically asked to complete hands-on training in a medical facility or private practice environment.

Step 2: Achieving licensure is usually the next step. Most nursing students opt for the registered nurse credential because of the increased employment opportunities and salaries available to those with this medical license. Some students may prefer to apply for licensure as a licensed practical nurse before they pursue a career as a registered nurse. In both cases, licensure occurs at the state level.

Step 3: Completing a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution is generally the next requirement for prospective nurse practitioners. Coursework for these students typically includes perspectives on aging and geriatrics, pharmacology, assessment strategies, basics of mental health nursing, community and public health issues, pediatric studies, and leadership training in the nursing field. A specialization may also be required for nurse practitioners who plan to work in certain areas of the medical industry.

Step 4: At this stage, most nurse practitioners take one or two years to obtain advanced experience in the health care environment. This may be required for certain advanced certification options.

Step 5: A national certification is commonly required for nurse practitioners. These professional credentials may require a standardized test; for example, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers certification based on education, experience and the successful completion of a computer-based examination.

By completing these steps, aspiring nurse practitioners can achieve success in their chosen career path.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner after BSN

Students who opt to pursue a BSN rather than an associates degree or a certificate program as their initial step can generally go directly to the later steps in the process outlined above. By moving directly to the BSN without intermediary certification or associates degree programs, nurses can streamline the process and may be able to begin their career as a nurse practitioner more quickly.

Types of Nurse Practitioners

The nursing field has proven to be a highly rewarding and stable career path for those who are looking to obtain a BSN degree. In order to further compete in this aggressive job market, many seek to further their specializations by pursuing a degree as a nurse practitioner. There are various types of nurse practitioners who focus on specific areas of treatment and illnesses, below are some of the most popular types of nurse practitioners.

  • General Nurse Practioner
  • Pain Management Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Neonatal Nurse
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

GMercyU, Your Pathway to Success

Students can start their educational journey toward licensure and practice in the nursing field at a top nurse practitioner school, like Gwynedd Mercy University. The programs and guidance available at this elite institution can provide real support for aspiring nurse practitioners in the modern educational environment. Contact our Admissions office today at 844-707-9064 or send an email to to learn more about our nurse practitioner degree programs. We look forward to the chance to help you achieve your career goals.


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