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What Is A Nurse Practitioner?

Physicians and Nurse Practitioners are very similar professions and each field performs tasks very like the other.  The training and education of a registered nurse is the same as that for Nurse

Practitioners, and Nurse Practitioners may, in fact, perform additional coursework for their degrees.  They are both trained and experienced in managing patient care as well as patient treatment methods.

 The largest difference between Nurse Practitioners and registered nurses is that only the former is allowed to write medication prescriptions.  This is why Nurse Practitioners get chosen over more qualified registered nurses sometimes for health care professional positions.  Many times, due to budgetary reasons, clinics and hospitals simply overlook or pass over registered nurses.

 How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?

 Experienced Nurse Practitioners can make as much as $75,000 per year, on the low end.  This is because their advanced skill levels and large knowledge base allows them to take physician jobs in urban or extremely rural areas that lack proper physician support.  A Nurse Practitioner that is just starting out can bring home about $50,000 per year on average, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

 What Education is Required To Be a Nurse Practitioner?

 The interesting thing about Nurse Practitioners is that the education process begins the same as registered nurses.  In fact, Nurse Practitioners always start out as registered nurses.  They receive a degree either via a Bachelorís Degree in Nursing or an alternative educational course.  Then they go on to a graduate course to receive their graduate degree, which is required to become a Nurse Practitioner.

 It takes two years to obtain a Masterís of Science Degree in Nursing, which is the ideal degree to receive in the graduateís program.  In that time, a student will have the basic nursing ideas and practices reinforced in their learning, as well as expanding on the basics.  Such basics include Medical Ethics and Law, Pharmacology, Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Illnesses and Ailments, and Advanced Anatomy.

 Although a Masterís Degree is all that is required now, conversation has been had regarding raising the standards for Nurse Practitioners to be required to obtain Doctors degrees instead, making them Doctors of Nursing Practice, or DNPs.

 Masterís Degree programs often offer variable educations, meaning different schools teach different curriculums, so the Nurse Practitioners that graduate and begin working with others like them have completely different skill sets and bases of knowledge.  Requiring Doctors Degrees would level the playing field and allow Nurse Practitioners the ability to work with each other smoothly, without jumping through hoops trying to cover what others donít know.  Of course, the schooling for Doctors Degrees takes about twice as long as that for a Masterís.  Perhaps that is why nothing has been settled yet, as Nurse Practitioners are still only required to receive a Masterís of Science and learn all proper training and obtain all necessary certifications.

 Focusing While in School

 While students are at school, they are usually required to declare an area of specialization.  Doing so helps them concentrate and focus on their one area of specialty, from mental health to pediatrics to cardiology to gynecology.  Declaring a specialty is also preferred because most of the school work is done in hospitals, working closely with patients and Nurse Practitioners.

What Licenses and Certifications are Needed?

Once a student has acquired his Masterís Degree in Nursing, the next step is to take a licensing exam.  The state in which the student is set to practice administers this exam.  Along with this licensing, a state certification can be amplified by national certifications from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and other organizations like that.


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