7 Important Nurse Practitioner Common Questions About Schools and Careers

What careers can I pursue in nursing as an NP?

While some nurse practitioners go on to earn a doctorate and work in leadership or educational roles, many nurse practitioners find employment in hospitals, private practices, schools, health departments among others. As an NP, you will choose a specialization, such as acute care, which will also dictate your career path.

What degree path can I take?

As a nurse practitioner, you’ll need a master’s degree to enter the field. If you’re just starting out, consider an RN-to-BSN program, which makes you eligible to apply for a Master’s in Nursing (MSN). Or, you can enroll in an RN-to-MSN programs which allow registered nurses to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously.

How do I choose a specialization?

During your graduate level coursework, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a specialization. A few examples are acute care NP, school NP and gerontological NP. Once you earn your MSN, you’ll be eligible to take an exam offered by either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Upon passing, you’ll be certified in your chosen specialization.

How do I apply for financial aid?

You’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for government financial aid. In addition to this, the school you attend must be accredited by a recognized organization. Scholarships, grants, private loans and PLUS loans are other types of financial aid you can consider. Read our Nursing Financial Aid article to understand ways to finance your nursing education.

What type of accreditation should a nursing school have?

NP schools should be accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

How do I become licensed to work as an NP?

NPs must hold a master’s degree and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Holding certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program or the American Nurses Credentialing Center may also be required by your state.

What continuing education requirements should I expect throughout my career?

Certified NPs are required to renew their certification every five years by taking continuing education courses (or re-taking the exam). State nursing boards also have requirements regarding contact hours.

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