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There are several levels of training you will need to complete before becoming a nurse practitioner so answering the question “How long to become a Nurse Practitioner?” can be complicated and the educational process can take anywhere from five to seven years depending on the path that is taken.

 

 

 

 

What Are the Undergraduate Nursing Education Requirements?

To become a registered nurse, you should complete an accredited associate degree or bachelor’s degree that focuses on nursing.  This will be the first step that allows you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).  Undergraduate degrees require a mix of intensive lectures and a clinical component.  Clinicals are completed under the supervision of a clinical instructor, who is an experienced registered nurse.  When you are attending school full-time, an associate degree takes approximately two years and a bachelor’s degree takes approximately four years.  There are accelerated programs for undergraduate nurses that take less time to complete, with the average being three years for a bachelor’s degree.

 

Can Bridge Programs be Used by Nurse Practitioners?

Licensed registered nurses who completed an associate degree may choose to bridge into a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing.  If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may be able to go straight from your associate degree to your master’s degree in nursing.  If you are bridging into your bachelor’s degree, many programs can be completed in one year when you attend full-time and have all required prerequisites completed.  Bridging to you master’s degree usually takes the same amount of time as a non-bridge master’s degree.

 

What is the Nurse Practitioner Program?

A nurse practitioner program is a master of science in nursing with the specialty focus of nurse practitioner.  On average, it takes about three years to complete this program when you are attending full-time.  After you complete your degree, you can apply for the licensure type that your state requires.  This degree will require both classroom work and a clinical component.  If you want to specialize, such as in obstetrics or acute care, you will need to complete additional clinical training and this usually takes one year.

 

Is a Doctorate Degree Required?

At this time, you are not required to possess a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to practice as a nurse practitioner in the United States.  However, this could change in the future.  The DNP is generally completed in five consecutive semesters for those with a master’s of science in nursing.  The DNP is highly focused on a scholarly project that will vary by school.

 

How Long to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

How long it takes will depend on the route you take.  The average time to completion is five to seven years for those starting with their undergraduate degree and working all the way through their master of science in nursing.  If you get your doctorate degree, it will take longer.

 

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians: Education and Training: Family Physicians and Nurse Practitioners

Health Careers Network: How Many Years Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Duke University School of Nursing: Frequently Asked Questions About Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

 

Nursing school is both challenging and rigorous.  It requires a mix of classroom instruction and clinical practice.  How long nursing school takes ultimately depends on the type of nurse you want to be.  There are options and you have to decide what you want to do with your nursing career.  Within the different types of nursing, there are some program types that take longer than others.

 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

The majority of licensed practical nurse (LPN) programs give a certificate or a diploma upon completion.  These are usually not degree-granting programs.  However, some community colleges throughout the country do have associate degree programs for LPNs.  You may also find programs at vocational schools, but these usually only give a diploma or certificate upon completion.  Your training to become an LPN is usually done in one year of full-time study.  If you happen to choose a program that grants an associate degree, it can take about two years of full-time study because you will also be completing general education classes.  Once you complete your program you will need to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NLCEX-PN).

 

How Long is Nursing School to Become a Registered Nurse?

A registered nurse must obtain either an associate of science in nursing or a bachelor’s of science in nursing.  The program you choose should be accredited and possess all necessary licensing to allow you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).  It will take two to four years to complete a degree that allows you to sit for this licensure examination.  The two-year programs are typically found at community colleges and private colleges and these grant an associate degree.  If you want to go the route of a bachelor’s degree, you will find the four-year programs at state schools and universities.  Some schools also have accelerated programs.  An accelerated associate degree is generally completed in 18 months of full-time study.  An accelerated bachelor’s degree is typically completed in two and a half to three years of full-time study.

 

How Long is Nursing School to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner will need to possess at least a master’s of science in nursing.  The exact path that you need to take will vary by state.  Before you enter a nurse practitioner program, some schools require that you have at least a year of experience working as a registered nurse.  The actual program takes two to three years to complete.  This is in addition to the two to four years it takes to become a registered nurse.  So, all in all, it takes five to seven years to become a nurse practitioner.  If you decide to increase your education as a nurse practitioner, you may pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).  This would add an additional two to four years to your education.

 

Resources

Georgetown University: Family Nurse Practitioner

Oregon University: Advanced Practice Nursing Specialties

Board of Registered Nursing: Applicant Frequently Asked Questions

RegisteredNurse.org: How Long Does it Take to Become Registered Nurse?

Ozarks  Technical Community College: Practical Nursing FAQ

Nursing school is rigorous and it is meant to challenge you in every way.  When you become a nurse, patient’s lives will be in your hands and nursing school works to prepare you for this.  It is critical to learn how to think like a nurse, which means being able to think critically and quickly.  Once you complete nursing school, you are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN) and this is the ultimate test to determine if you meet the minimum nursing competency requirements.

 

Is Nursing School Hard?

Discipline is required to successfully complete nursing school.  Nursing school differs from other majors because it requires more than just classroom instruction and occasional examinations.  There is also a clinical component that you must attend to pass each nursing class.  You will have clinicals weekly and many programs will fail you for missing just one of these.  As part of your clinical experience you will be required to complete care plans for patients that you work with.  These are lengthy and are not something that can be put together in a matter of hours.  You must attend all classes because each class presents information that is critical to the total knowledge that you need.  You must also study on a daily basis.  Nursing is not something you can memorize or cram for.  You must understand how to apply the nursing process to be successful on examinations.

 

Do You Have to Be Good at Science to Complete Nursing School?

Nursing school requires a foundational knowledge of science.  You do not have to have the entire Periodic Table of Elements memorized, but you do need to understand the basic concepts of biology and chemistry to be successful in nursing.  You will also need to understand microbiology, pathophysiology and anatomy and physiology.  All of these sciences are required prerequisite courses for all nursing programs in the United States.  Depending on your school, you may take them along with your early nursing courses or before you are admitted into the nursing program.

 

How Much Studying is Required in Nursing School?

When you are in nursing school, you will need to study daily.  It is said that for every hour you spend in lecture classes, you should spend two to three hours studying outside the classrooms.  For example, if you have a three-hour medical surgical lecture each week, then you need to spend at least six hours studying for that class each week outside of your lecture.  This will help you to nail down the basic concepts and keep them fresh in your mind for examinations and clinical practice.  For clinicals, you do not necessarily have to study, but you will have care plans to complete and these take several hours to do, so you much budget your time well or else you risk becoming overwhelmed very quickly.

 

Resources

Scrubs Mag: Why is Nursing School so Hard?

John’s Hopkins School of Nursing: 7 Tips on How to Survive an Accelerated Nursing Program

American Nurses Association: How to Become a Nurse

“What are the best shoes for nurses?” is an important question to have answered when you are practicing nursing, either as a licensed nurse or as a student on clinical assignment.  Your shoes protect your feet from certain hazards and they play a major role in your comfort.  You will be on your feet anywhere from eight to 16 hours per shift, and occasionally, longer.  If you do not have the right shoes, you can experience discomfort and put yourself at risk for potential exposure to things like bodily fluids.

 

Does Your Employer Require a Specific Shoe?

Your employer may require a specific color or type of shoe, so you will want to get this information before buying a pair.  Most hospitals and clinics do not put rules on the shoes nurses wear, however.  If you are in doubt, simply ask your supervisor.  If he or she says that a specific shoe is necessary, ask for some advice on where to find the shoe.

 

Are the Shoes Non-Skid?

When you are working in a hospital, you will notice that spills happen everywhere.  You will constantly need to walk on slippery surfaces to clean them up and get to your patients.  This means that you need shoes that will not slip out from under you.  There are shoes that are specifically labeled as non-skid and there are brands that specialize in non-skid shoes.  Of course, you still need to exercise caution around wet floors, but a non-skid shoe will help to improve your traction to minimize the risk of a fall.

 

Do the Shoes Offer Good Support?

First and foremost, the shoe must fit well.  If your shoes are too tight or too loose, this can cause discomfort as you work your shift.  If you have wide feet, you want to choose a wide width shoe.  This helps a lot as your feet swell throughout the day due to being on them for several hours.  You want to look for solid arch support for your type of arch.  If you have a high arch, for example, you want a shoe designed for those with high arches because it will have extra cushioning at the arch point in the shoe.  If you have flat feet, you want a shoe that caters to this so that you are getting adequate support.  If you go to a shoe store, the associates can measure and examine your foot.  They can use this information to ensure that you are shown the shoes that are best for your foot size and type.

 

Are My Shoes Safe for Nursing?

When you are choosing a shoe for nursing, avoid open toes, open heels and mesh inserts.  All of these mean that anything spilled could end up on your foot because they will soak right through.  This could result in exposure to bodily fluids or skin contact with different chemicals and medications.  You want a shoe that is fully leather and durable.  This will protect your feet should something be spilled on your shoes.  Leather is also easier to clean.

 

Resources

Nursing 360: Choosing the Right Nursing Shoes

Scrubbed In: No More Aching Feet: Tips for Choosing the Best Footwear for Nurses

Nurse Together: 6 Tips for the Perfect Nursing Shoe

 

When it comes to researching what the different types of nurses are, you have hundreds of choices in terms of specialties.   All of these types have different levels of education and required experience.  It is important to evaluate your goals so that you start off right.  Following the correct path will get you to your chosen specialty faster.

 

What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) works under a registered nurse (RN).  They are able to do things like take vital signs, give injections and administer medications.  You can also perform CPR and keep medical histories and medical records.  You will be able to administer basic nursing care, but cannot do everything a registered nurse can do.  For example, in some states, LPNs are not able to administer intravenous medications.

 

What is a Registered Nurse?

A registered nurse (RN) will assess patients, prevent disease, provide disease management, and promote health through intervention.  He or she administers all types of medications, creates nursing care plans and assists the doctor with certain procedures.  RNs can also get involved in clinical research, become nurse managers, teach as a clinical nursing instructor and work in patient advocacy.  There are many options for nurses who are licensed RNs.

 

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are a type of advanced practice nurse who works with people of all ages.  They are able to diagnose patients and provide treatment within their scope of practice.  They can prescribe medications and order diagnostic testing like X-rays, EKGs and other necessary testing.  Nurse practitioners can practice independently in 26 states throughout the country.  You will need at least a master’s of science in nursing and this degree will need to focus on the nurse practitioner track.

 

What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

A nurse anesthetist is certified and is a type of advanced practice nurse.  They can work independently or along with anesthesiologists.  Every type of anesthetic can be administered by them and they can work in any surgical setting from gallbladder removals to open heart surgery.  This type of nurse will need extensive training and clinical time in a nurse anesthetist program.  This type of nurse may also work in obstetrics to administer things like epidurals or in a trauma setting.

 

What is a Nurse Midwife?

Nurse midwives are advanced practice nurses who are certified in nurse midwifery.  Nurse midwives can provide almost all types of care to women from gynecologic services, to pregnancy care to care for woman during and after menopause.  They can deliver babies and assist with fertility issues.  This type of nurse will complete a master of science in nursing with focus on midwifery.  They work directly with physicians, and while they cannot perform cesarean sections, they can perform most other duties during childbirth.

 

 

Resources

American Board of Nursing Specialties: ABSNC Accreditation

American Nurses Association: Nursing Specialties

American Nurses Credentialing Center: ANCC Certification Center

Colorado Christian University: Different Types of Nursing – Thinking Through Your Nursing Education

Many ask “Why Become a Nurse Practitioner?” when starting down the road of becoming a nurse.  Nurse practitioners (NP) are a type of registered nurse with extended privileges to serve as specialty care and primary providers.  They are able to do things like diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications and conduct examinations.  This type of nurse can run his or her own practice and serve as a sole healthcare provider.

 

What Are Nurse Practitioner Job Conditions Like?

The conditions vary greatly depending on where you work.  Most positions that NPs work are in the ambulatory care setting.  This means that you see patients in an outpatient setting.  Ambulatory care also offers opportunities in home care, especially in rural areas.  The average NP works a set schedule, but your specialty and place of practice can change this.

 

Where Can a Nurse Practitioner Work?

Nurse practitioners can work in a physician’s office, a hospital or their own practice.  You can also choose one of many different specialties.  These include the following:

 

  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Adult nurse practitioner
  • Women’s health care nurse practitioner
  • Acute care nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Geriatric nurse practitioner
  • Neonatal nurse practitioner
  • Occupational health nurse practitioner
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner

 

There are also options as a certified registered nurse anesthetist or a certified nurse midwife.

 

If you choose to go the route of owning your own practice, you will want to become aware of the laws regarding nurse practitioners in your state.  These can vary and it is important to work only within your scope of practice per your state’s guidelines, regulations and laws.  You will also want to ensure that you have the proper insurance because this can be different than the insurance you carry working for a major hospital or in a pre-established medical clinic.

 

What Kind of Hours do Nurse Practitioners Keep?

Nurse practitioners have many options when it comes to work schedules.  Some NPs will work a typical 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 at medical clinics.  These are generally five days per week, with most weeks being Monday through Friday.  If you work for a major hospital, you may have options to work morning, afternoon or night shifts.  You can also be on call.  It really depends on the type of practice you go into and what your overall preferences are.  Your schedule is usually set and is the same week after week.  However, major hospital systems may have rotating schedules that require so many weeks of night and so many weeks of days.

 

What is the Earning Potential for a Nurse Practitioner?

How much you earn greatly depends on many factors, such as where you live, your employer, your level of experience and your specialty.  The median annual wage for a nurse practitioner in the United States is $89,960, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The median wage is just an average and you may make more or less, depending on the factors stated above.  When asked, “Why become a nurse practitioner?” an obvious answer would be “a great earning potential”.

 

 

Resources

Discover Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner

Illinois workNet Centers: Nurse Practitioner Working Conditions

US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Nurse Practitioners

University of California Regents: Areas of Specialization, MS Program

 

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What do Nurses do on a daily basis?  That depends a lot on his or her specialty and place of employment.  However, there are some general tasks that all nurses will do on almost all of their shifts.  These are basic nursing duties that fall within the nursing scope of practice.  All of these tasks are done to promote wellness and healing for all patients.

 

Select a nursing specialty below, to get a more specific idea of what each Nurse does day-to-day.

What do Nurses do on a daily basis?

Here are some general tasks that many Nurses preform each day

What Are the Basic Hygiene Duties?

Nurses must ensure that all patients are bathed and changed every day.  This involves oral care, sponge bathing, cleaning and grooming hair and helping the patient to change his or her clothing.  Patients who are experiencing incontinence will require hygiene care several times per day to help maintain skin integrity and morale.  If a patient can provide his or her own hygiene care, this should be encouraged.  This keeps patients active and involved in their care.  Nurses should also make sure that the bed is changed each day and that all dirty laundry and trash is removed from the room.

 

What Are the Basic Medication Duties?

Patient medications are administered at specific times throughout the day.  All patients will require different medications at different times.  The nurse must coordinate and prioritize this care.  Some medications must be administered at specific times to maintain drug levels in the body.  Other medications are given at a certain time, such as 8:00pm, and must be administered within 30 minutes of this time.  The nurse should read the drug order completely to ensure proper administration.  Your facility will dictate exactly how all medications should be given.

 

What is a Nursing Care Plan?

A nursing care plan develops a plan of care for the patient based on the nursing process.  All things involved in the care plan is carried out solely by nurses, as all elements fall within the nursing scope of practice.  Your care plan should include your assessment, at least one NANDA-approved nursing diagnosis, nursing interventions, expected outcomes and associated evaluations to determine if the outcomes have been met.  How you write these will be determined by your facility.

 

Are Nurses Involved in the Diagnostic Process?

Nurses do participate in the diagnostic process by helping to collect data.  Nurses will complete head-to-toe assessments, as well as targeted assessments, on all patients at least once per shift.  Every time a nurse comes into contact with a patient, he or she will be assessing the patient.  All of the assessment data is put into the patient’s chart.  Nurses will also pull vital signs as prescribed during every shift.  Blood work, urinalysis, culture collection and other things necessary to diagnosis and monitoring the patient’s condition are also often collected by nurses.

 

Are There Any Other Duties That Nurses Do on a Daily Basis?

Throughout the shift, nurses will complete many other duties as they provide patient care.  These include:

 

  • Record and document all necessary information
  • Communicate with peers, subordinates, supervisors and other members of the healthcare team
  • Research
  • Follow all legal and facility standards
  • Teach patients
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Inspect equipment and other materials before use
  • Maintain patient confidentiality

 

Resources

Mayo Clinic: Registered Nurses

Medical News Today: What is Nursing? What Does a Nurse Do?

DELMAR CENGAGE Learning: Outcome Identification and Planning

National Center for Biotechnology Information: Documentation and the Nurse Care Planning Process

 

 


 

 

 

When you go into nursing, there are over 100 different nursing specialties that you can specialize in.  Some of these allow you to specialize by obtaining a certificate that is awarded based on either experience, an examination or both.  Some specialties will require additional education and clinical experience.  When you are advancing your nursing education, you want to decide what you want to specialize in right away to make the transition a bit easier and the path to get there much clearer.

 

What is a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse is a registered nurse that has had additional training to investigate accidental death, physical assault and sexual assault.  In addition to nursing training, they also have training in the criminal justice system and medical evidence collection.  Most nurses in this specialty work in emergency rooms.  If they assist a victim, they usually have to also testify as an expert medical witness as to what their findings were.

 

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who has at least a master’s of science in nursing and pursued a nurse practitioner degree track.  On the NP level, nurses can choose to further specialize in fields like pediatrics, acute care, geriatrics and obstetrics.  A nurse practitioner is able to diagnose, prescribe and act as a sole provider to patients.  Nurse practitioners can practice medicine independently in 26 states in the US.

 

What is a Nurse Midwife?

A certified nurse midwife is a type of advanced practice nurse.  He or she will provide patient care and counseling during all stages of pregnancy, include preconception and the postpartum period.  A nurse midwife can also provide regular gynecologic care, reproductive health services and menopausal care.  In a clinical setting, a nurse midwife can diagnose and treat patients, provide preventative care, and refer for additional specialty services when necessary.

 

What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

A nurse anesthetist is a type of advanced practice nurse.  They can work in any surgical setting to provide all types of anesthesia.  They work alongside a variety of other health professionals, such as surgeons, dentists and anesthesiologists.  In rural hospitals throughout the United States, about two thirds of them only have a nurse anesthetist and not a medical school prepared anesthesiologist.  This position provides great autonomy and nurses can work independently in administering anesthesia.

 

What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

A clinical nurse specialist chooses an area of expertise and becomes an expert in that area.  The primary specialty areas within this specialty include nurse management, patients and their families and administration.  This type of nurse will participate in clinical practice, research, management, teaching and consulting.

 

What is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

A psychiatric nurse practitioner is a type of advanced practice nurse that has responsibilities similar to that of a psychiatrist.  He or she is able to diagnose mental illness, manage care and prescribe the necessary medications.  This type of nurse can also provide counseling, teaching and therapy, and provide additional referrals when necessary.

 

What is a Nurse Researcher?

A nurse researcher is a type of scientist.  He or she strives to improve nursing through conducting research.  They design studies, report results and analyze data.  Nurses may also participate in other forms of research, such as clinical trials.  The type of research and where the research is being performed will ultimately determine the nurses duties.

 

What is Nursing Informatics?

Nursing informatics focuses on improving communication and information management in the field of nursing.  This is done to reduce costs, improve efficiency and improve the overall quality of patient care.  Nurses in this field use the nursing process to better improve the systems nurses use, as well as to develop new ones.  This field involves an education in nursing and additional training in information technology.

 

Resources

American Board of Nursing Specialties: ABSNC Accreditation

American Nurses Association: Nursing Specialties

American Nurses Credentialing Center: ANCC Certification Center

 

 

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