How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

how long does it take to become a nurse practitionerThere are a great number of fascinating careers in medicine. If you’re interested in a career in medicine, read about thirty different doctoral careers in this article, and find out which one is right for you. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, you likely have a couple of questions – like how long will it take, and how exactly do you go about becoming one? Find out below.

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How long will it take?

The average education for a nurse practitioner takes about five to seven years. This is, of course, after completing high school. If you haven’t completed high school yet, consider taking science classes and any classes you can find that connect with the medical field.

You should also consider taking basic computer classes as these also come into play when becoming a nurse practitioner. More details on what is involved with becoming a nurse practitioner are below. Learn medical language with an online course.

How do you become one?

Becoming a nurse practitioner actually involves a lot more work that becoming a regular nurse because they can do much more than basic vitals. The general requirements for most nurse practitioner positions involve a Master’s degree or post-graduate certificate in a nurse practitioner specialty, a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, a state license, a certification from the nurse practitioner certification board, at least one or two years of experience, basic computer skills, and technical skills in some specialized medical equipment. Each of these requirements are detailed below. Learn about the changes in the health care industry with an online class.

  • Get your Bachelor’s degree.

Once you graduate high school, your first step to becoming a nurse practitioner is to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This will involve classes in anatomy, physiology, patient health assessment, pharmacology, and so much more. You will also be involved in clinical rotations that will be supervised.

While a Bachelor’s degree in nursing is preferred, most science-based Bachelor’s degrees will also be accepted. You should research the medical location you hope to work at for more concrete information. Try talking to other nurse practitioners too, and see what degrees they hold. Learn all there is to know about HIPAA with an online course.

  • Get your state license.

State licensing for registered nurses varies depending on the state. However, most states require you to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which is given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Be sure to check with your state as far as what other requirements there might be to gain and keep your license.

  • Pick your specialty, and start gathering experience.

Before you can begin your graduate studies, you’re more than likely going to need some experience under your belt. Again, you’re going to want to check with the specific Master’s program you intend to apply to as programs can differ. However, it’s a great idea to start gaining experience in the medical field anyway to make job searching easier. There are a number of different specialties available for nurse practitioners. Here’s a short list of specialties available:

  1. pediatrics
  2. gerontology
  3. acute care
  4. mental health
  5. anesthesia
  6. family practice
  7. women’s health
  8. midwifery

Gaining experience in your chosen specialty will vary depending on what you picked. It’s a good idea to start networking with nurse practitioners in your area so that you have some contacts when you need experience. There is a very high chance that your experience at this point will be mainly voluntary.

  • Get your Master’s degree.

There are many different Master’s programs available to become a nurse practitioner, and they usually involve the specialty you decided. If you have a Master’s degree in a different nursing field, you can complete a post-master’s graduate certificate program. Depending on the specialty you chose, your program can take as little as five months to as long as three years. There are also BSN-to-Master’s fast track programs offered at many colleges that allow the student to bypass the experience-gathering portion.

  • Get your certification.

Once you’ve completed your Master’s degree or other program of similar nature, you will have to take the nurse practitioner certification exam in the specialty you chose. In order to get your certification you will need to have a valid RN license (see the section above entitled “Get your state license”), perform a minimum number of hours in nursing practice within your specialty, and pass the exam.

The number of hours varies depending on the specialty, ranging from 750 to 1400. It can take about six months to an entire year to complete the number of hours required. Once you’ve got your certification, go out and apply for your dream job as a nurse practitioner.