Overview of Nurse Practitioner Programs

The demand for nurse practitioner programs has been on the rise for the last few years, and there are certain reasons for this. Before the 1950’s there were no nurse practitioners and all the functions that they do nowadays were done by physicians and other medical professionals. It is hard to imagine the health sector without the NPs due to the importance roles that they play. Due to these roles, they have become critical in healthcare, especially in the USA. Nursing schools and universities have come up with different post graduate programs to try and meet the increased demand. These NP programs are offered in physical classes on a part-time or full-time basis. Although the regular modes of study are the most widely spread, online NP programs are quickly catching up as more and more students discover the convenience that they offer. Whether you choose to take the program online or attend physical classes, you should be able to finish in about two years if you follow the semesters as they are. However, a nurse practitioner graduate diploma will take less than twelve months since it does not cover as much work as the Master of Science in Nursing.




Online Nursing Practitioner Programs


Since the programs are post graduate, most of the people who pursue them are likely to be full time employed nurses. And so due to this fact it is more convenient for them to take the online programs as they get to choose the most convenient time for them to take the classes. A typical day for a nurse is long and stressful, and so it will be very hard to spare a couple of hours to go to school, and this is one of the main reasons why most do not advance to the practitioner level. However, the coming of the internet seems to have solved this problem because all but a few nursing schools have the option to take this program online. However, just like for the undergraduate programs it will still be necessary to have the clinical practice in a hospital and hence it is not offered purely online.


How to Find the Cheapest Online NP Programs

The only way to find a cheap online NP program is to choose the school wisely since most have different tuition charges. If you want to go to the most reputable school in your state, or you want to take their online program, then you should be prepared to pay more. For a cheaper online program, you should avoid the top names and go to a school that is not very famous but is still known to offer high-quality standards of education. Apart from this, you should also consider enrolling in online programs offered by public universities instead of private ones. Public institutions are under the control of the government and so they will not overcharge students. They also get subsidies from the federal and state governments and so they can be able to charge fair tuition fees. However, even as you try to get the cheapest online nurse practitioner programs, you should be careful not to compromise on the quality of education that you get. Avoid online programs that are awkwardly cheap or charge way much less than the average fee charged by other nursing schools.

Free NP Programs

The high tuition fees charged by both public and private institutions discourage most people from advancing their nursing careers or becoming nurse practitioners. Although technically you will not get this course for free there are several ways that you can use to reduce the amount of money your pay. Grants and scholarships have always been a reliable source of financial aid for students in the USA and contrary to what most people think they are also available for postgraduate programs. If you are looking to take a Master of Science in Nursing in the hope of becoming a nurse practitioner and you are financially constrained, there are many ways to solve this problem. Organizations such as American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Nurse Practitioner Foundation, and Nurse Corps Scholarship Program have grants and scholarships available for students that want to become NPs. Apart from this, there are also other governmental student aid programs, and they do not discriminate against any course, and so you can also use them for your MSN.

Practitioner Programs by State

Almost all the states in America have universities that offer these programs. In fact, most nursing colleges and universities have these programs as part of their curriculum. However, the following are some of the states with well established NP programs offered in many institutions within the state.


  • California. There are now more than 10,000 NPs practicing in California according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the surge is attributed to the increased number of programs offered by various schools in the area. The top schools in California that are known to offer this program include California State University, Samuel Merritt University, and UC Davis School of Medicine
  • North Carolina. NC has only about 3000 NPs, but this number is still bigger than what you will find in most other states. Here they are regulated by the Boards of Medicine and Science, and there are a few schools that have training programs for the NPs. These schools include East Carolina University and Duke University.
  • Michigan. Northern Michigan University and Way State University are the two top schools in the State of Michigan that have programs for NP training. Apart from these two, there are also other universities from other states that have campuses in Michigan that offer NP programs.
  • Florida. There are close to 6000 nurse practitioner in Florida with most of them being employed in hospitals while a few operate clinics. The top programs in Florida include those offered by Barry University and Florida Atlantic University.
  • Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania NPs are as valuable for the health sector as they are in other states. Many schools in PA have courses designed to increase their number from the current 3,500. The top schools here are Pennsylvania state University, Drexel University and the University of Pittsburg.
  • Minnesota. Most of the NPs in Minnesota practice in urban centers and this is probably because they are not many like in other states. They are only about 2,700 in the entire state but programs offered by St. Catherine University, Winona State University and Metropolitan University are steadily increasing this number.
  • New York. Only one or two other states in the USA have more NPs than New York, which has about 9,000. However, the demand is still there for more NPS, and so the top programs offered by schools such as Columbia University and Stony Brook University are still very necessary.
  • Texas. Texas comes at number four when states with the highest NPs is the USA are ranked. And this great number of practitioners can be attributed to the excellent programs offered by Texas A&M International University and Angelo State University.

Top Accredited Nurse Practitioner Programs in the USA

The importance of accreditation when taking a professional course like nursing cannot be overemphasized. And this is, even more, important when on the graduate level taking an MSN in your journey to becoming an NP. Apart from the fact that you can only be certified to become a nurse practitioner if you took an accredited program, most employers also prefer these types of employees. This is because accreditation is a symbol of quality education in the institution. In the USA, there are many accredited schools offering NP programs and almost each state has one or more schools that fit this category. The following five are among the top accredited programs for NP in the USA.

  1. Oregon Health and Science University
  2. Columbia University
  3. California State University
  4. Duke University
  5. Vanderbilt University


Why Choose an Accredited Program?

Accreditation should be one of the primary things to consider when looking for an NP program whether you want to take it online or physically. However, it is, even more, important for online programs since in most cases you may not get an opportunity to visit the school and hence you cannot determine how authentic or suitable it is. One of the primary reasons why you should choose an accredited school is because the certification exams required to become a nursing practitioner are only open to graduates from accredited programs. Another reason is that accreditation makes it possible to transfer your credits from one institution to another provided they are both accredited. Thirdly, accreditation will also qualify you for the financial aid that is crucial for covering the expensive tuition fees required for the successful completion of these programs.

Requirements for Enrollment in the NP Programs

  • To be considered eligible to take this course you must be a registered nurse with a current license. Note that an associate degree does not qualify you to take this program and so you have to go through a bridging process.
  • You have to take and complete masters or doctoral degree in your particular area of specialization to become a licensed and certified practitioner.
  • A nurse must also complete a minimum of 500 hours of supervised clinical practice. However, some schools have more hours on their program. Others will even require more than 600 hours before graduation
  • To become an NP you must also complete graduate studies in specific areas such as advanced pharmacology, advanced health assessment, physiology, and pathophysiology.
  • Lastly, you should also meet all the other conditions that are required by individual certification bodies such as writing a personal statement.


Specialty Based NP Programs

  • Family NP Programs: FNPs are general practitioners, and they are primary care nurses for different groups of people. These programs aim at equipping them with the necessary skills required to work with patients throughout their life. And so an FNP knows how to care for people of all ages suffering from different conditions.
  • Psychiatric NP Programs: Although a mental health practitioner is also a trained and registered nurse that can deal with any patient they specialize in diagnosing and treating people with mental problems. These programs will only focus on mental health with little about general health being included in the program.
  • Pediatric NP Programs: Students in pediatric nursing practitioner programs will be taught how to care for children. And so during the course, a student should expect to cover a broad range of children diseases. In this program, the NP will also be equipped with skills to interface with the child’s parents so as to ensure holistic care.
  • Neonatal NP Programs: Neonatal NP Programs are for caregivers who will be working with infants. Newborns often have many health problems, and so they will require a lot of care and attention. This program will equip the NP with the knowledge and skills to deal with common newborn issues such as infections, birth defects, and prematurity.
  • Acute Care NP Programs: Acute Care NP specialty is designed to create a professional that can take care of people living with acute illnesses. NPs in these programs will have the expertise to offer comprehensive care to acute illness patients by addressing needs that are related or unrelated to their condition.
  • Women’s NP Programs: Since this practitioner will mostly be working with women this program equips him or her with relevant knowledge on the primary care of a woman. The program covers important sexual and reproductive issues and also gives the NP the skills to offer postpartum and pregnancy care.
  • Emergency NP Programs: These NP specialties work in a very tense environment, and so they require the necessary skills not only for the job but to keep calm in an emergency situation. The Emergency NP program will help these specialists work calmly in urgent care centers and emergency rooms.
  • Adult-Gerontology NP Programs: NPs who go through this program are also called Primary care Nursing Practitioner and their central role in a hospital or clinic is to care for adolescents and older adults. Due to the general nature of their practice, the can work in different settings ranging from hospitals to homes.

Certification and Licensing Process for NP

After going through the NP programs, the main thing on most people’s mind is to get a license so that they can seek better employment opportunities or open a clinic. Since they are mature nurses, they know what they want and the only thing standing between them and their dream is certification and a license. But both are very easy to get provided you have the required qualification.

The first step upon graduation or just before you graduate is to apply for certification by the American Association of Nursing Practitioners. You will be needed to pay a fee and provide a few documents and then schedule a day for the exam. Once you take and pass the exams and fulfill any other condition that they may require you will receive your certification. With this certification, you can now apply for a license to practice in the state you wish.

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Summary: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take an NP Program

  1. It will open up more career options since there is a high demand for these professionals not only in hospitals but also in nursing schools as educators.
  2. NP programs will offer you an intellectual challenge that will start when you are applying to a school and continue through your career.
  3. You will get the opportunity to operate autonomously as you will be legally allowed to open and run a clinic.
  4. With an NP program, you can be guaranteed of a return on investment as this is one of the best-paying jobs in the USA.
  5. You get to join an elite group of a few professionals that are slowly changing the face of healthcare in the USA and also globally.

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