9/4/10 by Karen Harrison
A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse that has received a master’s-level education. Unlike a regular nurse, a nurse practitioner has the ability to prescribe medications, order and perform diagnostic tests, manage patients’ overall care, and provide counseling. Nurse practitioners can practice primary care or specialize in specific areas, such as women’s health or pediatrics. One of their key roles is teaching patients good health habits and disease prevention.
CNN Money ranked nurse practitioner the fourth best job in America. Owing to the shortage of primary care physicians in the US and the increase in retail clinics, the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to grow over the next several years. Moreover, as healthcare costs increase, so will the need for cost-effective, quality healthcare, which nurse practitioners are able to provide.
Nurse practitioners may practice independently or work in hospitals, long-term healthcare facilities, and healthcare agencies. In order to become a nurse practitioner, you must complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Although some MSN programs allow people with bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing fields apply, it’s usually recommended that applicants complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) program first. In addition, many online nurse practitioner programs encourage applicants to work as registered nurses for at least one year prior to submitting an application.
Prerequisites for Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
The prerequisites for online nurse practitioner programs are typically an RN license, a BSN, a minimum GPA and minimum scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and some clinical experience. There are also accelerated programs available to students who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields or students who only have an associate’s degree in nursing.
What to Expect
Online nurse practitioner programs generally take two years to complete. These rigorous programs equip students with in-depth knowledge of the nursing and healthcare industry, allowing them to become leaders in the field. Most of the coursework concentrates on the specialty being pursued, but courses in core subjects, like ethics, nursing theory, health policy, health promotion, disease prevention, and finance within the healthcare system are also required.
Online nurse practitioner programs require a significant investment of time and money, but they are well worth the effort since they translate to exceptional career opportunities in the future. You can expect to spend anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 to complete an online nurse practitioner program. If you demonstrate financial need, you may be eligible for loans, grants, and scholarships, so don’t hesitate to apply for financial aid. When researching online nurse practitioner programs, it’s best to request information from several different schools so you can compare tuition, prerequisites, curriculum, and other important aspects of the programs in order to make your final decision.
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