What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner is a nurse who has completed an advanced level of training in diagnosis and disease management. Nurse practitioners work closely with a patient’s regular physician, and can even serve as a patient’s primary health care provider. Nurse practitioners can write prescriptions and are also often solely responsible for first line diagnoses. Nurse practitioners can order diagnostic tests, arrange treatment plans and provide counseling. Additionally, nurse practitioners focus on individualized patient care. Rather than merely treating the illness, nurse practitioners can also provide education and analysis of a patient’s home life in order to prevent further health issues. Nurse practitioners can practice almost anywhere, in all fifty states, in places varying from hospitals to private clinics to school nursing staffs. Many nursing homes have a nurse practitioner on staff, and nurse practitioners can even practice independently. Most nurse practitioners also have a specialty that they focus on in their training, for example, neonatal, pediatrics, or occupational health.
How can you become a Nurse Practitioner?
In order to become a nurse practitioner, you must first have a BS in nursing, and preferably be a registered nurse, although there are some training programs which take those who have the BS but are not registered. Most nurses work for about two years before beginning their training as nurse practitioners. After working as a registered nurse for several years, you can apply for a Masters of Science in Nursing, which also generally lasts about two academic years. While studying, most nurse practitioner candidates also choose an area of specialization, although some choose to remain general nurse practitioners. In addition to the Master’s degree, nurse practitioners must also be licensed in the state in which they want to practice. Each state has different requirements, so you should check your local nursing organizations for more information about practicing in your state.
Nurse Practitioner Jobs
While being a nurse practitioner is extremely rewarding, because of the nursing shortage, some are finding it difficult to get the training they need for certification. There is a shortage of nursing teachers, which limits the number of candidates accepted into training programs. However, once accepted, there are many different job opportunities for nurse practitioners. Because of the varied nature of the job and the degree, nurse practitioners have a lot of options when it comes to choosing how and where to practice. There are numerous web sites advertising nurse practitioner jobs, and it is always worth a try to look at your state board of nursing and local nurse practitioner association. When looking for a nurse practitioner job, be sure to check out the required credentials, as they do vary from state to state. It is also good to search for a nurse practitioner job by your specialty, as this will really narrow down your search, and help you find a job more quickly. Be sure to remember to check local nursing forums as well for the inside information on the job you’re considering.