Nurses who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree but who would like to continue working with patients may consider becoming nurse practitioners (NPs). This type of nursing role requires a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing in a particular area of specialty, such as pediatrics, oncology, or emergency medicine. Nurse practitioners who specialize in caring for the health of the entire family may become family nurse practitioners (FNPs).
To become a nurse practitioner, you must first have a degree in nursing at the undergraduate level. Many nurses decide to become NPs because of the work they have been doing since graduation. For example, if you became a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have spent several years working with families in the public health setting, you may have an interest in becoming an FNP in an advanced nursing role.
Nursing schools that train students to become NPs have programs that last between two and four years, depending on the degree attained. Master’s degree programs require classroom study and practice in the clinical setting to learn the skills needed to help patients. Following graduation, you must pass a licensing exam to practice as an NP. The test is provided by the state board of nursing in the location in which you intend to practice.
Nurse practitioners work in various areas, including hospitals, medical clinics, and public health settings. They see patients for illness, injuries, and ongoing health care. They may take personal histories, prescribe medications, and perform some procedures. They may also provide literature and education to better inform their patients about how to care for their own health.
Some NPs work under the supervision of a physician, depending on the area of practice. For example, an NP who works in a medical office may see patients for illness or injuries as appointments are filled. If she needs guidance for a medical procedure or a referral, she may collaborate with another physician working in the same office. In other situations, NPs may work independently and may be the only source of health care for some populations.
Nurse practitioners are important types of caregivers that work alongside doctors and registered nurses to provide care and education to patients. This type of advanced practice nursing allows you to study nursing at a higher level while still working with people and meeting the needs of patients.