Nurses have long been essential to the effective delivery of healthcare services. As these influential medical professionals continue to drive mission-critical clinical and administrative workflows, the nature of their work is rapidly changing.
Due to various industry developments, including a growing doctor shortage, healthcare systems and practices everywhere are asking nurses to take on broader responsibilities. In 2021, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034. This has fueled the emergence of several advanced nursing professions, most notably Nurse Practitioner (NP).
NPs perform many challenging clinical tasks previously reserved for physicians. Their responsibilities may include evaluating patients, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, offering diagnoses, creating treatment plans, and prescribing medications. These highly qualified medical professionals, most of whom work with families, touch on every phase of the healthcare process.
Obtain advanced qualifications that focus on this type of care, such asPost Masters Certificate (PMC) in Nursing, is a crucial step for those who want to become a practical nurse.
how to become a nurse
According to American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) survey data released in 2022, more than 355,000 NPs are licensed to practice in the United Statesfamily carer(FNP).
Although their specific roles vary from state to state, in most cases NPs can perform functions similar to physicians. For example, the AANP reports that 96% of NPs prescribe drugs and all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow the practice, although some require a physician's supervision. Other responsibilities may include:
- patient assessment
- Request for diagnostic tests
- make diagnoses
The path to fulfilling this advanced nursing role includes earning bachelor's and master's degrees and obtaining a license. The following steps are the main steps to become a registered nurse:
Step 1. Get a nursing degree
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is generally required for enrollment in nursing programs that prepare students for NP careers. Some BSN programs offer accelerated programs for those with bachelor's degrees in another field and for Registered Nurses (RNs) with associate degrees.
Step 2. Pass the NCLEX and obtain an RN license
Prospective NPs who are not yet RNs must take the National Board Licensing Examination (NCLEX). Passing this certification exam is usually a requirement for state licensure as an RN. State Boards of Nursing are responsible for licensing RNs.
Step 3. Enroll in a graduate program
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs build on the training nurses receive in BSN programs and typically allow students to focus on a specific NP specialty. Besides an FNP, there are a few other examples of NP typesAdult Gerontology Acute Nurse(AGACNP) and Practitioner of Psychiatric Mental Health (PMHNP).
These programs cover a variety of fundamental topics, including:
- The role of data in modern healthcare
- Legal and ethical issues that arise in the provision of care
- The evidence is based on practice
- Pathophysiology and advanced pharmacology
Students in an MSN program also complete clinical internships, which are hands-on learning experiences that give them the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world settings.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees, which expand MSN training, are another option for nurses looking to improve their skills. For MSN owners looking to expand their work focus or target a new area of expertise, PMCs are another route to postgraduate study.
Step 4. Pass the NP National Board of Certification exam and get the NP License
Upon completion of their graduate program, nurses must pass the National Board certification exam for their chosen specialization. The American Nurse Practitioner Certification Program (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) are two examples of NP certification bodies.
After passing the exam, nurses must apply for their state license to practice as an NP.
How long does it take to become a nurse?
It typically takes six to eight years to become a registered nurse. The following is a breakdown of the time required for education, training, and other requirements to become a registered nurse:
become an RN
The training and testing required to become an RN typically takes two to four years, depending on your educational credentials. A graduate or associate's degree can take about two to three years to complete. A BSN degree, which is generally a prerequisite for admission to graduate education for prospective NPs, can take up to four years to complete.
Duration may vary depending on the format of the program and whether the student is taking full-time or part-time courses.
Earn a college degree
The time it takes to earn a college degree also varies. MSN programs can last from two to three years, depending on format and full-time or part-time status. For nurses looking for PMC, the time to graduate can be as little as 1⅓ to two years. DNP degrees can take anywhere from a year to just over three years to complete.
Get a national certification
Obtaining the national certification and state license required to become an NP typically takes less than a year. This time depends on factors such as the time it takes to prepare and pass the exam.
The NP experience
What does the average day of an NP look like? These medical professionals can start their shifts in a variety of locations, including community clinics, hospitals, private practices, and emergency centers.
According to a 2020 AANP survey, about 59% of NPs see three or more patients per hour. Most NPs focus on family care and work with patients from infancy to adulthood. Others navigate medical specialties such as critical care, gerontology, and pediatrics.
The Rise of PN: A Brief History of Nursing
The role of NP did not exist before the 1960's. GPs and specialists dominated the clinical landscape. However, population growth and the consequent reduction in hospital space have forced healthcare stakeholders to seek strategies to improve access to care. For example, hospital beds per 1,000 patients fell from 9.2 to 7.9 between 1960 and 1970, according to 2019 World Bank data.
Nursing educator Loretta Ford and pediatrician Dr. Henry Silver suggested a possible solution: continuing education for nurses. Nurses were numerous at the time, and Ford and Silver believed that with a little extra training, these professionals could progress to more advanced roles. They believed that once they became registered nurses, nurses might be able to take on some of the responsibilities that doctors had. According to AANP, the two started the first graduate NP program in 1965.
By 2022, of the 355,000 NPs in the US, those in 28 states and territories and the District of Columbia had full authority to practice. Within this practice environment, NPs can evaluate patients, order diagnostic tests, make diagnoses, and prescribe medications, including controlled substances.
In all other US states and territories, NPs are subject to restricted practices that prevent them from performing one or more standard industry functions. In highly restricted areas of practice, NPs must also comply with strict healthcare provider oversight laws.
Despite these and other obstacles, NPs have had an immense impact on patient populations, especially in rural areas where physicians are few.
Therefore, American healthcare providers are increasing their NP recruitment and recruiting efforts to minimize or prevent losses in service availability and quality. Because of this, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that NP employment will grow 46% between 2021 and 2031, adding nearly 113,000 jobs over that period.
Advance your career by becoming a nurse
If you are interested in taking your nursing career to the next level, consider pursuing a nursing degree. If you already have an MSN,Bradley University Online Post Masters Certificates in Nursingcan be an ideal route. With options that focus on the popularPNF specialty, as well as other fields of activity, the certificate can offer you the opportunity to expand your career and serve patients in new ways.
Find out how Bradley's Online PMCs in Nursing can help you achieve your career goals.
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