Why Should I Be A Nurse Practitioner – How to become a nurse is not as complicated as you might think. Like most nursing majors, it involves more school than nursing, but it’s worth the hard work. It’s not easy, but it’s possible!
Some people decide to become a nurse after working as a bedside RN for several years, while others have this goal from the start. I fell into the latter and worked hard to achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a nurse in no time!
Why Should I Be A Nurse Practitioner
This article describes the “traditional” way to become a nurse, the path I personally chose and know best. If you’re interested in unconventional NP routes – I’ll have an article coming soon, so be sure to subscribe to my email list to be notified when it drops!
Why Become A Nurse Practitioner?
If you are thinking about becoming a nurse, the logical first step is to be a nurse. It just makes sense. A nurse practitioner is literally an “advanced practice nurse”, which means having some form of nursing education first. Yes, there are ways around this, but for most people this will be the first step. An RN license is almost always required for traditional nursing programs.
You can get your BSN or ADN to get your RN license. In short, a BSN is a 4-year degree that offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This is the recommended level of education for a nurse and is required for entry into a nursing program (except direct entry programs).
No matter which RN education path you choose, you will learn how to assess your patients, all about different medical conditions, and your role as a nurse in their assessment and treatment. You won’t learn how to diagnose, but you will learn what treatments are often indicated and how to administer those treatments. This may include administering various medications, assisting with tests, communicating with other healthcare professionals, and more.
You will also carry out clinical research in a hospital setting as you learn how to become a bedside nurse. Most programs include 800-1000 hours of formal clinical experience.
Top 5 Benefits Of Being A Family Nurse Practitioner
Once you graduate, pass the NCLEX-RN and become state licensed as an RN, you can finally start working as a bedside RN.
Once you have completed your RN education and passed the board certification exam (NCLEX-RN), you should now be ready to start working as an RN! It’s usually very exciting because you can finally use what you’ve learned and make a positive impact on your patients, expand your knowledge, and make money!
Believe it or not, whether or not RN experience is required before entering a nursing program can be a hot topic. Many people believe that a certain number of years of experience is required before enrolling in a nursing program. Some say 2 years, some say 5, and some simply say any experience is beneficial.
Gaining bedside work experience as an RN is critical to your development as a future nurse. Working as a bedside nurse provides continuous hands-on training every day you work. The amount of learning in medicine is endless, and I can confidently say that there isn’t a change that goes by that I don’t learn something. Working as a nurse will expose you to many common acute and chronic medical conditions and their associated treatments and therapies. In fact – you will be the one to administer and help them! Through your experience, you will improve your assessment skills as well as your communication with your patients and colleagues in the hospital or clinic where you work. Your first work experience will give you a deeper understanding of the healthcare system and how it all works. This will be invaluable in your efforts to become a nurse.
How To Become A Nurse Practitioner
Most nursing programs do not require minimum RN experience – at least in family or adult primary care NP specialties. Certain subspecialties, such as acute care, pediatric, psychiatric, and neonatal programs, will require specific nursing experience in an appropriate clinical setting. Often it is 1-2 years. Many program admissions pages will “recommend” but not require experience, so lack of experience can negatively affect your admission.
So yes, you can become an NP without RN experience. But I believe it will negatively affect your clinical skills as a young nurse when you graduate. However, I do not believe that the bedside experience of an RN is as important as some people seem to think. The nurse must think like a provider using extensive history taking, advanced physical assessment, and evidence-based medicine. As a nurse, you will learn a lot, but you will not learn to think like a provider.
My personal recommendation is to work as an RN for 1-5 years before starting your NP program and work through your entire program if possible. The number of years of RN experience a person needs to help them become a good nurse will vary from person to person. I only had 1 year of full-time RN experience before starting the NP program. However, I worked full-time for most of the program and when I started my first job as a nurse, I had about 4 years of full-time RN experience, most of which was in the ER.
Will someone excel in nursing school and be a new nurse practitioner with no RN experience? Maybe. But I think not getting any bedside experience as an RN would be doing your future patients a disservice and missing out on a lot of hands-on learning.
The Path To Becoming A Nurse Practitioner (np)
When you are ready to begin your NP education, you can apply and enroll in the specialty nursing program of your choice. Unlike PA programs, which train generalists, NP programs are resident-specific. This means applying for a specific patient-population specialty. This helps tailor your education to the patients you will see in your next NP job. Nurse practitioner specialties include:
The difference between each specialty is a completely different article, but which one you choose will depend on which clinical setting you plan to practice in during the day. If you want to work with adults in a hospital – get your AGACNP. If you want to work in a primary care office, get your FNP or AGACNP depending on the age you want to see. Understand that some specialties have some degree of flexibility, and many facilities will hire FNPs or AGPCNPs for both inpatient and outpatient work, as well as in the ED.
The time required for a nurse practitioner program will depend on the degree you choose to pursue. There are more traditional master’s degrees in nursing (MSN) as well as newer Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) options. MSN programs will take approximately 2-3 years to complete and DNP programs 3-4 years. Currently working in a clinical setting, there is not much difference in terms of clinical education, job role or salary, although this may change in the future.
The courses attended will depend on the major chosen. All NP programs will include some basic core classes such as advanced physiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced health assessment. Then, depending on your specialty, you will have different classes specific to each population that describe the different medical conditions and diseases that will occur in that population, as well as the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for each individual.
Nurse Practitioner Residencies: The Ultimate Guide
Just like an RN, you will also gain clinical experience during your NP program. The number depends on the program, but most NP programs will require 600-800 hours. Again, it was about 16 hours a week for me. A common misconception is that NP students only observe during clinic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
During the clinic, you are expected to visit the patient yourself, take a thorough history, perform your physical assessment, and then introduce the patient to your supervisor (an experienced NP or physician). You will recommend a care plan and you and your teacher will develop the plan together. This is essential to connect the dots and prepare you to be a good nurse.
Many programs will offer both full-time and part-time entries that you can use to fit into your lifestyle. Nursing programs can be intensive and most people cannot work full-time and complete a full-time NP program at the same time. I also attended a 24 month part time program which helped me work most of the program, continue to support myself financially.
As mentioned above, continuing to work also helps you learn. You can see everything you learn in your NP education. You may not be formulating a plan of care, but this piece was essential in my development as a competent new graduate NP.
What Should I Major In To Be A Nurse Practitioner?
Once you successfully graduate from your NP program, you are eligible for a state nurse practitioner certificate. To obtain a certificate,
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