An NP is an advanced medical professional or registered nurse. Their main line of work is direct and focused patient care. They are responsible for diagnostics and treatment methods, as well as disease prevention. They will then get an NP post-graduate degree to continue with the certification process. It has been estimated by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) that 99% of all NPs have a graduate degree. There are plenty of reasons why one would like to become a nurse practitioner (NP). For the longest time, it has been considered as a secondary profession to the traditional physician. But times have changed, and people are becoming more knowledgeable about the benefits of this field. Not only does one accumulate multiple specializations in the healthcare field, but they are also well respected.
The general areas of focus are, of course, getting a Bachelor’s degree and then continuing post-grad. But you will have to take a step back and assess fully what being an NP means before you make an informed decision. What exactly does being an NP entail? Are you up for the job? What kind of financial stress are you ready to undertake?
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
The history of a patient and their overall care is the main responsibility of an NP, and a physician usually supervises them. To become a nurse practitioner, one has to first become a registered nurse (RN) by getting their Bachelor’s degree. Doctors and NPs have not had the smoothest history when it comes to competition, but this is also now seeing a shift. There are many questions one may have about becoming an NP. From the years of education to the kind of work they will partake in, a lot of research is needed for this to be a viable career choice. So, here is all you need to know before you take a deep dive into the world of NPs. Thus, the expectancy for them to be in school is around seven years, although this may vary according to different states.
The Importance of NPs
These people are invaluable to medical teams in hospitals and research facilities. Where physicians are decreasing in numbers for primary patient care, NPs are taking their place. This is usually beneficial for families with ailing members who NPs cater to. NPs are capable of diagnoses and treatments and procedures. They collect patient data and include all relevant symptoms, not just physical ones but also environmental and psychological. Due to their educational and professional skills, they have greater access to the patient’s mindset and can speak with families directly. They can conduct dialogues about the progression of diseases and their treatment plans, as well as any acute health problems. They are also in charge of ordering prescriptions and helping in surgical procedures when needed.
NP Education Requirements
Becoming an NP is a bit different than becoming a physician. Many detailed and extensive educational requirements require the following. NPs have similar duties to that of a physician and yet greater challenges as well. Their degree programs include:
- A lot of clinical work as well as up to 4 years of study beyond a BS degree
- Completion of coursework and acquiring a proper license
- Passing of state-specific exams for practice
- Following a general course of study for advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) programs if needed
License and Certification
States all across the country require their practitioners to have proper licenses. Because all states have their own rules and regulations regarding the licensing, you will have to make a note of these. According to the state you wish to practice in, you will thus begin your training and get the appropriate certification. You will also have to assess the published list of approved graduate programs that will qualify you for becoming an NP. At a national level, certification will be available from different approved associations that you can take a look at. Some of these include:
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
NPs will continue to complete the required internships while they take classes. They are required to have full clinical training and hand-on patient experience before they can practice in the field. A traditional part of the internship regime is creating care plans and providing relevant health services. Along with classroom hours, internship hours also need to be completed on rotation for a vilifying post-grad experience. These practices are friendly for any kind of clinic or hospital environment.
An NP program will come with its syllabus. This provides the kind of specialization and training you need to practice at a beginner and advanced level. You will be able to pick the desired area of focus and then build your foundation. You can even get your certification in multiple fields to make yourself a better candidate. Therefore, the following require a certain time for completion:
- Picking your area of specialization
- Establishing your experience in that particular area
- Going through the eligibility requirements for exam purposes
- Preparing for the exam
Your certifications are reviewed and renewed every five years (on average). This means that to maintain the credentials you have been given, you will have to continue studying. This involves a 75-hour completion of CE, in which 25 hours will be a part of pharmacotherapeutics. You will also have to fulfil one or two of the other renewable categories, like credit, publications or professional work.
Medication and Other Facets of Employment
NPs are part of this process all across the United States. They can prescribe all kinds of controlled medicines and substances that have been approved by a physician in some states. Around 97% of all NPs prescribe medication regularly and can write up to 19 orders a day. This is safe and effective for patient health and control under desirable conditions. Besides this, their employment revolves around working with physicians’ offices as well as family homes. They can even open up their private practice and conduct their work accordingly. Overall, the chances of job success are not limited to any kind of form.
NPs can work in a variety of environments and do meaningful work in the healthcare sector. However, becoming an NP is no easy task and following the given guide will help you decide your route. From prescribing medication to patients and keeping proper histories and records, NPs are at the forefront of medical professionals. Therefore, their contribution to the field is invaluable, and experts or laymen should not ignore them.