Nurse practitioner is the highest level a nurse can attain. In many states, a nurse practitioner has the same admitting rights as a doctor; they can admit and follow their patients in the hospital.
If you are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner your first step is becoming a registered nurse. You will be required to take advanced nursing courses and eventually receive your master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. This can take a few years to complete, but you can work as a registered nurse in the mean time.
A state licensing body governs nurse practitioners; therefore, the duties you are allowed to perform may vary from state to state. However, here is a list of some of the things you might be allowed to do:
- Diagnose, treat, and monitor certain non-life-threatening diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Get medical records and do routine physicals.
- Order, perform, and read test and lab results.
- Prescribe medicines for chronic illnesses. (Limits will vary according to state.)
- Prenatal and family planning services.
- Well childcare clinics—immunizations and checkups.
- Primary and specialty care services.
- Care for critical or acute patients.
- Minor surgeries and procedures—with additional training and under strict supervision.
- Counseling patients on healthy living, self-care, and treatment options.
The first part of your education will be to get your registered nursing license. To do this you must attend school at a qualified university or technical school. There are two degrees possible: an associate’s degree in nursing (ASN), which is a two-year program, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), which is a four-year degree.
Once you complete the training and education necessary you will be required to take a board certification test. After passing these, you can then pursue furthering education to become a nurse practitioner.
Not all states will require a master’s degree in nursing; however, most do require a master’s, post-master’s, or doctoral degree. In addition, all colleges and universities offering nurse practitioner degrees are at the master’s or post-master’s level.
Finally, all states do require practitioners to be certified by a national board before they can actually practice medicine and the two largest boards in the country do require applicants to have a master’s degree. Overall, the best idea when pursuing this career would be to get your master’s.
Jobs in nursing have always been plentiful; it seems there are never enough nurses to go around. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that nursing as a whole will grow much faster than all other sectors.
This is due in part to a growing and aging population. People are living longer now than ever before. Moreover, the cost of seeing a nurse practitioner is much lower than a traditional physician is; so as healthcare costs continue to rise and the economy continues to sink, it is safe to assume there will be much growth in this field.
The salary for a practitioner can vary depending on location and field of work. The median pay as reported by payscale.com is $65,000 per year. The salary also varies according to place of employment, with emergency room taking the top slot at $85,000.
Again, the allowed scope of the position will be highly dependent on the state of residence; however, these are some possible nursing job openings available:
- Emergency room
- Government health agencies
- Schools and day care
- Independent practice
- Acute care facilities
- Geriatric care units
- Women’s Health
One thing this world can never have too much of is nurses. As in any search for employment a daily perusal of the employment section of the daily paper will show you available positions. The current demand is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing.
Besides if, you have always wanted to be in a position to help people by treating their illnesses but could not go to medical school, this is the next best thing. Most practitioners have well-lit, comfortable environments to work in and are providing a much-needed public service. All in all this is a great profession to pursue.