Nurse Practitioner Programs Information Guide

NursePractitionerEducation provides users with several tips and guides on nurse practitioner degrees. A nurse practitioner (NP) is a type of advanced practice registered nurse who serves as primary and specialty care provider. The prerequisite to becoming an NP is obtaining a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) from an accredited college or university.

Nurse practitioners have a widely expanded understanding of the practice of nursing compared to undergraduate RNs. The core philosophy of the nurse practitioner field is individualized care. NPs can serve as a patient’s primary health care provider, and see patients of all ages depending on their specialty (family, pediatrics, geriatrics, etc.). NPs focus on patients’ conditions, in addition to the effects of illness on the lives of patients and families. Prevention, wellness, patient education and encouraging patients to make healthy choices should be an NP’s priorities.

Kaplan University
MSN: Administration
MSN: Education
Kaplan University – At Kaplan University you can obtain a Masters in Nursing in Nurse Administration which will grow your skill set in the principles of personnel management, policy development and implementation. You can gain an MSN degree in Nurse Education that will prepare you for a faculty or educator role in colleges or schools of nursing.
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South University
South University – The MSN at South University is an excellent program that enhances the knowledge of registered nurses. The program allows nurses to pursue their education goals while continuing their career and meeting personal and family responsibilities through their flexible programs. The curriculum in this program develops clinical teaching skills and utilizes modern research in the nursing field.
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Chamberlain College of Nursing
Chamberlain College of Nursing – If you are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner or you wish to pursue leadership roles within Nursing, the Chamberlain College of Nursing offers an MSN degree you can earn online. The program can help you prepare for advanced positions that require more focused study. This program can be completed in two years.
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Grand Canyon University
MSN: Nurse Education
MSN: Nurse Leadership
MSN/MBA: Leadership
Grand Canyon University – The MSN in Nurse Education program at Grand Canyon University provides students with the educational knowledge and experience to prepare them for an advanced nursing profession focusing on training techniques and modern theory. You can also earn an MSN/MBA dual degree in leadership that will give you the opportunity to develop cross function management skills critical for advancement in nursing positions.
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Georgetown University
MSN: Family Nursing
MSN: Women's Health
Georgetown University – Online MS in nursing degree graduates from Georgetown University's School of Nursing and Health Studies will exit the competitive, highly-ranked and established program not only with their advanced degree, but as champions for their patients and the advancement of the nursing field across the board. Specializations are available in family nursing and nurse midwifery/women's health.
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American Sentinel University
MSN: Case Management
MSN: Health Informatics
MSN: Infection Prevention
MSN: Nurse Leadership
American Sentinel University – The American Sentinel University MS in nursing program includes several specializations: case management, health informatics, infection prevention, and nurse leadership. These programs enable nurses to develop leadership skills and learn advanced topics in infection and disease prevention.
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University of Cincinnati
MSN: Clinical Nursing
MSN: Family Nursing
MSN: Nurse Midwifery
MSN: Women's Health
University of Cincinnati – The MSN in women's health teaches nurses the training and diagnosis skills for common and complex female medical conditions. A MSN in clinical nursing specializes in a specific discipline ranging from diseases to medical environments. The clinical nursing, nurse administration, and family nursing programs teach the skills to manage common and more complex medical conditions for the entire family. The MSN in nurse midwifery degree leads to a rewarding career, giving the skill sets necessary to advise and treat women through pregnancy.
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Sacred Heart University
MSN: Clinical Nursing
MSN: Nurse Education
MSN: Patient Admin.
Sacred Heart University – The Sacred Heart University MSN: clinical nursing, MSN: nursing education, and MSN: patient care services administration teach nurses advanced topics in teaching and learning, issues in nursing education, coordination with other healthcare professionals. Graduates are found throughout the healthcare system, in both small clinics and large regional hospitals.
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What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who received his or her degree through a graduate-level education, consisting of either a Master of Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP). According to the International Council of Nurses, an NP as “a registered nurse who has acquired the expert knowledge base, complex decision-making skills and clinical competencies for expanded practice, the characteristics of which would be determined by the context in which s/he is credentialed to practice.”

Treating both physical and mental conditions through history taking, physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and then diagnosing diseases and providing appropriate treatment for patients are part of an NP’s daily tasks. In most states NPs can prescribe medications. NPs also conduct research and are often involved in patient advocacy activities.

Education Requirements for Nurse Practitioners:

As a nurse practitioner you will be responsible for providing primary care to patients in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Tasks will involve recording and analyzing a patient’s history, performing physical exams, ordering diagnostic tests, prescribing physical therapy and others. Through an NP education you will learn how to complete these tasks thoroughly and professionally. Education requirements can vary depending on the specialty you choose, but a master’s degree education is necessary in all cases. Some of the different specialties that you can choose in the NP career may include:

  • Pediatrics (including acute/chronic care, pediatric critical care, pediatric oncology, and general pediatrics (PNP)): Deals with infants, children, and young adults, encouraging valuable positive health behaviors, as well as addressing childhood illness
  • Family Health (FNP): Offers primary health care for all ages from infants to the elderly in terms of wellness and chronic and acute illnesses
  • Adult Health (ANP): Primary care providers for adolescents through middle aged adults—diagnose and treat health problems and teach the preventive care that adults commonly need
  • Geriatric (GNP): Specializes in caring for and treating the elderly—as more baby boomers age, this is a field that will be in much demand
  • Neonatology (NNP): Responsible for assessing, diagnosing and managing the care of newborns with significant health problems
  • Acute Care (ACNP): Provide advanced nursing care to adults with acute, critical and chronic conditions—practice in settings where patients require specialized care such as complex and continuous monitoring, intricate or invasive therapies or interpretation of diagnostic testing
  • Occupational health (ANP, FNP): Specialize in helping to prevent injuries and deaths in workplaces—assess, manage, and treat illnesses and injuries that happen in the workplace or because of working environments
  • Women’s Health (WHNP): Experts in woman-focused health promotion and disease prevention, as well as managing chronic health conditions affecting women
  • Midwife: Focuses on issues that face women in pregnancy and on pre-natal care and delivery of newborns
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health (PMHNP): Provides wide range of services to adults, children, adolescents, and their families in a primary care facility, outpatient mental health clinic, psychiatric emergency services, private practice, or in a hospital or community health center. Diagnoses illness, conducts therapy, and prescribes medications for patients who have psychiatric disorders, medical mental conditions or substance abuse problems.
  • Oncology (FNP, ACNP, ANP, PNP, ANP): Manages the physical and psychosocial care needs of individuals with cancer and their families across the illness trajectory.
  • Emergency (FNP or ACNP): Work in emergency rooms, urgent care, or ambulances to provide emergency and urgent care to people of all ages—trained to manage acute illnesses, trauma, chronic unstable illnesses, and to stabilize conditions using a variety of life-saving technology, and refer patients for follow-up care.

The two main degrees people choose to get to become a nurse practitioner are the Master of Science in nursing and the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Master of Science in Nursing: MSN programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete. They primarily focus on providing you with the skills necessary to enter professional health settings as a NP. You will become eligible to seek professional certification after completing a MSN degree program. Common courses within an MSN program may include:

  • Health Promotion
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Advanced Nursing Theory
  • Evidence-based Research
  • Ethics
  • End of Life Care
  • Informatics
  • Issues in Nursing

Doctor of Nursing Practice: A doctoral degree program in nursing is a further step in education from the MSN degree. This degree will enhance your career opportunities and expertise. These programs teach advanced practices in order to better meet patient needs. You will also be qualified to become a teacher in nursing through this degree. Common courses within a Doctor of Nursing Practice program may include:

  • Population health
  • Leadership
  • Behavior Complexity
  • Ethics in Advanced Nursing
  • Nursing Research
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Clinicians
  • Capstone project

To become a licensed or certified Nurse practitioner, one must take national board certification tests in an area of specialty. You can do this through the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This is a post-undergraduate prerequisite to becoming an RN, which is a prerequisite to becoming a NP. Passing the NCLEX-RN proves that RNs have the necessary skills to work in the field.

One must also go through nurse practitioner credentialing after completing the master’s degree program. As mentioned, NP programs usually focus on one specialty area of nursing and graduates generally choose to seek certification in the same specialty. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center are two credentialing bodies that offer certifications in nursing. These certifications must be renewed every five years in order to continue development within the profession.

Nurse Practitioner Career Information:

Nursing is the largest healthcare occupation, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, with more than two millions jobs. Overall it’s one of the ten occupations projected to have the largest numbers of new jobs. Because of this high demand for nurses, nurse practitioners are also in high demand to provide health promotion, health maintenance, and sick-care services. According to the American Nurses Association, approximately 60 to 80 percent of primary and preventive care can be performed by nurse practitioners. The growing emphasis on prevention and public health will continue to create excellent job opportunities for NPs.

In a job as an NP you will take health histories and provide complete physical examinations, diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems, interpret laboratory results and X-rays, prescribe and manage medications and other therapies, provide health teaching and counseling to support healthy lifestyle behaviors and prevent illness, and refer patients to other health professionals as needed. You would provide high-quality, cost-effective and individualized care for patients, families and communities.

Your earning potential as an NP varies depending on the facility you work in, location, experience, job title, and specialization. According to the 2011 survey data from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the average annual salary for all specialties of full-time nurse practitioners is $94,050 and the mean hourly wage reported was $46.12.

Breakdown of annual base salary for full-time NP’s by specializations:

  • Acute Care: $96,580
  • Adult Care: $93,990
  • Family Care: $87,630
  • Gerontology: $91,790
  • Neonatal: $107,550
  • Pediatrics: $87,610
  • Psych/Mental Health: $101,410
  • Women’s Health: $83,480

Breakdown of annual base salary for full-time NPs by practice settings:

  • Private NP: $89,980
  • Private Physician: $87,660
  • Community Health Center: $87,340
  • Rural Health Center: $85,250
  • Hospital Outpatient Clinic: $95,060
  • Occupational/Employee Health: $95,600
  • Emergency Room/Urgent Care: $101,580
  • In-Patient Hospital Unit: $96,120
  • Veterans Admin Facility: $100,680

More Resources on Nurse Practitioner Education:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners: The AANP provides NPs with a unified way to network and advocate for NP issues. As the largest and only full-service national professional membership organization for NPs of all specialties, AANP represents the interests of the more than 148,000 NPs currently practicing in the U. S. and continually advocates at local, state, and federal levels for the recognition of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, and personalized healthcare.
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners: The ACNP is a national non-profit membership organization whose mission is to ensure a solid policy and regulatory foundation that enables NPs to continue providing accessible, high quality healthcare to the nation.

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