How Many Years Of School You Should Get To Be A Nurse Practitioner

The health industry is booming, and that means greater avenues for people interested
in building a solid career in any of the fields within it. Many people think that there are
shortcuts to becoming a nurse practitioner. There are various programs to pursue and
become a nurse practitioner. You can enroll for an associate’s degree, or an
accelerated BSN program, among others.
Some colleges offer multiple degrees to help students to graduate fast. Finding the
appropriate program will help you to achieve your career goals. The time it takes to be a
practitioner varies depending on the nursing program. Let’s break it down to understand
things better.

Smiling young female doctor holding a clipboard in hospital

Why consider accelerated ADN programs?

The traditional degree program takes at least four years to complete. Schools with accelerated courses enable you to complete your course within 18 months. After graduating, you may decide to pursue further degrees.

You can pursue graduate and master’s degrees while working. Higher education comes with a lot of essay and assignment writing which is time-consuming. Finding help with a thesis is one of the best ways to succeed in school. The PhD research paper writers at Edurbirdie are ready to help you write any college research paper. They have the necessary university qualifications and can research different topics. Any student who finds professional help succeeds in their studies and career. 

Maybe you are looking to work in a private clinic or a hospital. All you need is to graduate from the program and pass the NCLEX exam. Such a program offers job flexibility in terms of working hours. While sometimes you may work at night, there are no fixed schedules. There is also the benefit of job satisfaction. Nurses get satisfaction as they take care of the patients. This is the field that offers you chances to save lives regularly. 

Choosing a nursing program

The nursing courses to choose from including the accelerated degree, the traditional four-year BSN, and MSN. The most important thing to do before deciding on the program to pursue is to do your homework. This will ensure that you pursue the best program to reach your goals.

One of the most challenging parts of becoming a registered nurse is the NCLEX. Find a program with a curriculum that could enable you to pass the NCLEX exams. High-quality programs emphasize more on these exams more. They shape their curriculum based on this exam. You need to prepare well to pass the exam.

Another important thing is to choose a program with faculty members who practice nursing. Avoid programs with people who retired long ago. People who practice nursing can teach you about their experiences in the field.

How to become a nurse practitioner

The steps to becoming a nursing practitioner may vary between states. It also varies depending on where you wish to practice after graduating. So, do enough research about the specific requirements.

All aspiring nursing practitioners must complete a nursing program. Various degree programs can prepare you to find a job as a registered nurse. Sometimes, all you need to do is to earn an associate’s degree in nursing. However, most employers like hiring applicants with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). BSN is the most important requirement for becoming a nursing practitioner.

The other requirement is passing the NCLEX exam. The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) comes after completing the nursing degree. This exam tests your knowledge in this field. If you fail the exam, you can wait for a minimum of 45 days before trying again. 

After passing the NCLEX exam, the last step will be applying for licensure. You can do so in your state of practice. The approval for licensure takes a few days or weeks, depending on the number of applications. 

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

The Associate Degree is a two-year program for students aspiring to become registered nurses. After completing the program, you can earn RN credentials. However, this is just one step to becoming a professional nurse.

ADN programs are offered in community colleges and universities in Central America. You can choose the in-person or online programs. Most students pursuing this program complete at least 700 hours of clinical studies before graduating. 

Always choose a program that is approved by the board in your state. Some programs will allow you to start working while pursuing a degree. AND provides real-life and practical experiences in different healthcare settings. An associate degree in nursing is the pathway to taking the NCLEX exam. You will be able to enjoy the benefits of RN licensure.

Nursing Practitioner (NP) program 

A nurse practitioner is a kind of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. It is suitable for those who have completed a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) or an MSN. A practitioner can take up roles such as Cardiology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, or Gerontology. 

Completing the NP program takes two-to-four years. Practitioner Programs offer a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The Master of Science program takes two years, while the Doctor of Nursing program takes four years to complete. 

To apply to a Practitioner program, you need to be a registered nurse. An RN-to-MSN program will be essential if you become a registered nurse by earning an ADN degree. This will supplement your training with a baccalaureate program. 

To practice in a specialty area, you need to seek appropriate certification from a certifying board. You must also maintain the certification through retesting and continuing education. This depends on the board’s criteria and requirements. 

Practical Nursing Diploma

A diploma in practical nursing is a quick way to begin your career. By earning a diploma, you are on your way to earning a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) qualification. This program takes a minimum of two years to complete. This depends on the number of semesters and the schools’ requirements. 

The board in your state must approve the LPN program. Technical colleges and schools can offer these programs. The coursework for PN includes classroom training and medical field skills. The curriculum includes clinical experiences and classroom reading. It will prepare you to gain competence and function as a registered nurse. 

While a diploma program takes a shorter time to complete, it helps you to earn minimum competencies. You will be able to acquire skills needed in the nursing career. The practical diploma that is approved by the state qualifies you to apply for the NCLEX-PN exam. This exam is a necessary step to becoming an LPN. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing 

A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is a traditional four-year program. It is suitable for students who are looking to earn a full qualification in this field. One of the pros of studying BSN is that it allows you to get more generous compensation. You also get an opportunity to take leadership positions and advance your career. 

BSN prepares for career opportunities such as:

  • Nursing director
  • Public health nurse
  • Quality assurance co-coordinator
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse manager
  • Nurse educator
  • Clinical research 

Attending a full-time baccalaureate program is one of the easiest ways to earn a BSN. These programs include general education classes that take two years. Math, history, and composition courses are prerequisites for the BSN program. Thereafter, you will take another two-year program that teaches nursing principles. 

After graduating from BSN, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and become a full nursing practitioner. You can choose to specialize in a particular field and earn relevant certifications. 

Such certifications can add credibility and value to your professional standing and role. Each certification has specific requirements. Most include the number of hours in the specialty, the degree, and the license. 

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) School

CNAs or nursing aids report to Licensed Practical or Registered Nurses. The CAN program takes 4-12 weeks to complete. To become a Certified Assistant, you need to take a training program approved by the state. The program should be offered through community colleges or local hospitals. 

After completing the program, you will take a competency exam administered by the state. The exam consists of written, multiple-choice, and practical skills exams. Upon passing the exam, you will be awarded a certificate. You will also be eligible to seek a CNA job and start working. 

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Having an MSN qualification will guarantee higher compensation. Having this qualification means being at an advanced level in your career. This entails training in public and community health, research, and leadership.

Each MSN program allows you to specialize in a particular field. This could be a Nurse Administrator position or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. You can also take a role in informatics or become Educator.

The MSN program takes approximately two years after graduating with a BSN degree. With clinical experience and BSN, you can complete the course in 18-24 months. With specialty competencies, you can take further certification exams. To become an advanced practice registered nurse, you may need certification in your field. MSNs looking to expand their roles also have an option of the post-master certificate programs. 

With an ADN, you can supplement the MSM program with a baccalaureate by pursuing an RN-to-MSN program. Completing baccalaureate education takes two to three years. With a baccalaureate degree outside the nursing field, you can enroll in an entry-level MSN program. 

Ph.D. in nursing

A Ph.D. is the highest level of qualification in this field. It requires a lot of library time because it is based on research. This qualification is good if you are looking to become an educator or conduct research. Although a Ph.D. holder may provide health care, in many cases, they don’t take this responsibility. It aims to equip learners with the skills, knowledge, critical thinking, and confidence essential in the career. 

It takes at least three years to complete the course if you take it full-time. If you take it on a part-time basis, it may take up to seven years. Classroom education requires 70 credit hours. You also need to prepare for a dissertation at the end of the program. To enroll in a Ph.D. program, you need to have graduated with a master’s degree in nursing. Experience is also mandatory. Nurses with Ph.D. don’t have a certificate to renew. 

Pursuing the degree will help you acquire in-depth knowledge in various specialties. For instance, you can excel in pediatric health care and optimal children’s health. A good institution should provide evidence-based practice. It should allow you to implement a scholarly project to transform evidence into practice. 

Factors influencing the duration of the program

Several factors can influence how long it takes to complete the course. One of the factors that impact the program duration is whether you are studying part-time or full-time. 

Full-time courses take a shorter time to complete than full-time courses. However, financial situation and personal responsibilities could hinder your ability to study full-time. Studying on a part-time basis reduces costs and could allow you to continue working. You can also take care of your family or attend to other commitments. 

Another factor that may affect program duration is taking breaks between degrees. Some people prefer taking breaks between each education level. This offers them an opportunity to gain experience and explore different areas of specialization. 

Whatever program you choose, the idea is to find a more rewarding career. Enroll in a program that enables you to work as a team and improve the lives of patients. Find a program that goes beyond the book content- focus on practical exposure. 

Conclusion

The number of years of school you get to become a nurse practitioner depends on the program. It also depends on the mode of study and how you want to earn the qualification. Every qualification will prepare you to take care of patients in different ways. Pursue a level of education that can help you to achieve your career goals. Research your choices and understand the requirements of various institutions. 

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