What is a Nurse Practitioner and How to Become One

What is a Nurse Practitioner and How to Become One

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide comprehensive, patient-centered healthcare services to individuals of all ages. They are trained to diagnose and treat various health problems, prescribe medications, and manage chronic illnesses. Nurse practitioners also play a critical role in promoting health and preventing disease by counseling patients on healthy behaviors and lifestyles.

Examples of Nurse Practitioner Job Specialties

There are several nurse practitioner specialties that provide specific care for certain populations or areas of healthcare:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) – provide primary care services for patients across the lifespan, including physical exams, health screenings, and patient education.
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) – specialize in caring for children from birth to adolescence, managing their healthcare needs from wellness check-ups to acute and chronic illnesses.
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) – focus on the care of adults and older adults, managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) – provide specialized care for women’s reproductive and gynecological health, including family planning, prenatal care, and menopausal care.
  • Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) – specialize in treating mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Education and Training Requirements

To become a nurse practitioner, one must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and a valid Registered Nurse (RN) license. After obtaining an RN license, one can enroll in a master’s or doctoral level nurse practitioner program in the specialty of their choice.

The master’s or doctoral program must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Completion of the program requires a certain number of supervised clinical hours and passing a national certification exam in the chosen specialty.

Progression and Advancement within the Field

Nurse practitioners can progress in their careers by obtaining additional certifications or degrees, or by gaining leadership or administrative roles within their organization. Some NPs may also choose to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, which provides advanced training in leadership, research, and population health.

Entering the Field as a New Nurse Practitioner

If you are new to the nursing profession, becoming a nurse practitioner can be a long-term goal to work towards. The first step is to obtain a BSN degree and become a registered nurse. Once you have gained some experience as a nurse, you can then apply to a nurse practitioner program in the specialty of your choice.

It’s important to research the different nurse practitioner programs available and choose one that is accredited and fits your career goals. You may also want to seek out mentorship or shadowing opportunities with practicing nurse practitioners to gain more insight into the field.

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who provide primary and specialty healthcare services to patients of all ages. They assess patients, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications, and develop treatment plans. According to the salary data provided, the US national average salary for nurse practitioners ranges from $111,217.60 to $131,622.40, depending on their job level.

Interestingly, the presence of unionization can also have a significant impact on the salary of nurse practitioners. On average, unionized nurse practitioners earn $155,084.80 compared to their non-unionized counterparts who earn $123,489.60.

The following data table summarizes the salary information for nurse practitioners in different job levels and work arrangements:

| Occupation | Level | Unionization | Work Arrangement | Salary |
| Nurse Practitioners | 09 | Nonunion | Full-time |$109,616.00 |
| Nurse Practitioners | 11 | Nonunion | Full-time | $120,785.60 |
| Nurse Practitioners | Not able to be leveled | Nonunion | Full-time | $127,712.00 |
| Nurse Practitioners | All levels | Union | All arrangements| $155,084.80 |
| Nurse Practitioners | All levels | Nonunion| All arrangements | $123,489.60 |
| Nurse Practitioners | All levels | Not applicable| Full-time | $122,012.80 |
| Nurse Practitioners | All levels | Not applicable| Part-time | $147,971.20 |
| Nurse Practitioners | Not applicable | Nonunion | NY-NJ-PA | $172,120.00 |
| Nurse Practitioners | Not applicable | Not applicable | Knoxville, TN | $93,808.00 |

According to the data, nurse practitioners in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA are the highest paid on average, earning a salary of $172,120.00. On the other hand, nurse practitioners in Knoxville, TN, who are paid on a time-based pay, have the lowest average salary of $93,808.00.

In conclusion, unionization can have a significant effect on the salaries of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners who work in certain regions of the United States, such as the New York metropolitan area, also tend to have higher salaries than others.