The NP role is among the most influential positions in healthcare. NPs hold more authority and responsibilities than RNs while performing many similar duties as physicians. These knowledgeable and skilled nurses provide primary care to diverse patient populations in outpatient clinics, hospitals, community health centers, and even private and independent practices. As such, you could strive to become an NP if you’re ambitious and want to deliver and improvehealthcare at an advanced level.
You could even go beyond the NP level and pursue aPsychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. This generally entails providing therapy for mentally ill patients – such as those with substance abuse disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression – and prescribing medications.PMHNPs also provide emergency psychiatric care and psychosocial assessments.The good news is that in order to elevate your job status to this level, you don’t have to leave your home – the program is available for online study.However, to pursue this program, you must first qualify as an NP.
How to become an NP
Typically, NPs start out as licensed RNs who have attained several years of experience with clinical work. They can then select a specialty area that is patient population-based and take aNational Certification Board exam to obtain licensure for advanced practice registered nursing.
The specifics of NP education depend on concentration areas. While the licensure of program offerings vary from one state to the next, here are the steps you should follow to become an NP:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree
You must earn a BSN to become an NP. A traditional BSN will take four years to completeand includeshands-on clinical training along with nursing-specific coursework and general education. If you hold an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)with an RN license, you can enroll in RN-to-BSN programs and earn a BSN quickly. If you wish to earn a BSN, but you’re a holder of a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, other fast-track options exist.
- Take the NCLEX-RN exam
As a prospective RN, you must earn a passing score on the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure. This consists of a computerized exam that includes multiple-choice questions and other question formats thattest the candidate’s performance.
- Get RN experience
Before admission to a graduate program, you needone to two years of clinical experience. While you are still an RN, you can explore specialties during this time to help you choose a future NP focus.
- Pursue a graduate program in nursing
The minimum educational requirement to qualify as an NP is a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and takes one to two years.You can also choose to pursue a three-year Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program to reap extra advantages such as increased job opportunities and higher earning potential. The DNP and MSN degree tracks will both require you to focus on a population specialty.
- NP licensure
Finally, after you’ve attained your academic credentials as an NP, you will need to pass a National Certification Board examination in a specialty area, such as pediatrics, family nurse practitioner, women’s health, or critical care to become licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).