United States Nurse Practitioner Masters Degree On Campus Programs
Nurse practitioner masters degree schools aim to help nurses develop the skills and knowledge to take a larger role in helping their patients. Generally designed with Registered Nurses (RNs) in mind, programs build on existing knowledge of bedside care. Programs might focus on identifying and diagnosing patient health issues. And they might expand on that, talking about how to create solutions to overcome them. They may do all that while retaining the eye for patient comfort that makes nursing roles so unique. You might find all this in a local graduate school setting. So in addition to pursuing your passion, you could do it with the support of your campus community and access to useful school facilities.
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Being a nurse practitioner typically requires that a current RN-BSN nurse earn a nurse practitioner masters degree. Candidates also generally must seek a relevant certification to their practice area.i Why the additional education? Because nurse practitioners hold unique responsibilities. They are able to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication, in many cases without the supervision of a physician.
NP schools aim to prepare students for this in a variety of ways. Some may do this by focusing on certain demographics. These programs might discuss a variety of medical topics specific to a certain group. This might be age, gender, or another category. Other programs might survey each of those groups to prepare for any scenario.
The specifics of what a certain nurse practitioner school may cover depends partially on the focus of that program. In other words, the type of nurse practitioner role they're looking toward. Other factors include student preference, and unique aspects of that school. For more information, contact your school or program for details.
Types of Programs at Nurse Practitioner Masters Degree Schools
influence on your choice of nurse practitioner masters degree schools may be the focus areas offered. This might have to do with the type of healthcare you're interested in providing, the type of facility, and the types of patients you might see. You concentration will likely impact the program's curriculum, clincial requirements and end goals. Here are some examples of the kinds of programs you might encounter.
- Acute Care vs. Primary Care: This usually is a distinction rather than a type of nurse practitioner masters program in itself. In most cases, you’ll see the terms “acute” versus “primary” to describe another type of program. Acute care focuses on treating patients for specific, short-term issues. Programs might emphasize hospitals and outpatient clinics, and similar areas. Primary care looks toward patients’ long term, day-to-day healthcare needs. One example of this might be in a primary physician's office.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Masters Schools: These programs focus on the health and development of infants up to about two years old. Programs might talk about the development of young children. They might also discuss unique medical issues faced by infants. Sometimes, this could cross over with women's health, if a program focuses on roles in maternity or labor and delivery.
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs: Pediatrics programs center on the needs of children from about three to eighteen or twenty one. Specific age ranges might depending on the practice, locality, and other issues. Topics could include emotional and physical development, age-specific health concerns.
- Adult Medicine & Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Masters Schools: Some programs might focus on serving young and middle-aged adults in primary or acute care facilities. Those programs may be somewhat broad. Others, meanwhile, may focus specifically on gerontology. This may especially include focusing on residential care facilities and providing end-of-life care.
- Psychiatric Care Nurse Practitioner Masters Degree Schools: This concentration looks toward providing nurse practitioner care to patients with psychiatric, emotional, and behavioral issues. It may be especially concerned with issues related to working in a psychiatric care unit or outpatient facility.
- Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner Programs: Some programs may look at health issues related to a specific biological sex. Others may be broader, talking about gender-related health issues in general. One example is women’s health nurse practitioner programs.
The specific concentration areas available may vary between program and school. As such, some may not exactly match these descriptions, might have fewer options, or might include things not mentioned here. Some may even span several of these examples. For example, Family Nurse Practitioner or FNP Masters Degree Schools might look at primary care for a wide range of ages and lifestyles. If you want to learn more about your options, reach out to the school you’re considering with questions.
What to Expect In Nurse Practitioner Masters Degree Schools
Earning your nurse practitioner masters on a graduate school campus could be unique in a few different ways. Because nurse practitioner schools tend to be aimed at registered nurses, some schools offer flexible scheduling options. That could help to accommodate different shifts.
And that’s not the only way graduate schools try and help their students succeed. They also might have labs and simulated clinic environments, as well as counseling and career services. This could be a huge benefit in such a hands on profession as nursing. You might be able to watch live demonstrations by professors, then try out techniques yourself. Plus, many schools maintain relationships with local hospitals, if you don’t attend a school with its own hospital. That might help facilitate observation and clinical experience, important components of your education.
Nurse Practitioner Masters Schools: Field Experience
While earning your nurse practitioner masters degree, classroom and lab work might not be the only requirements. You might also have to complete field experience. This could include observations and clinical hours, completed at a local hospital or other medical facility. How your school organizes this may vary. It could depend on the requirements for nurse practitioners in your state, and the variables of your particular program. Clinical rotations typically happen near the end of nurse practitioner masters programs. They may involve one or several different placements. Follow up with your school for more information on this and other potential field requirements.
Nurse Practitioner Certification
The specific certification or licensure you might need to become a nurse practitioner might vary. Factors that could influence the credentials you need include:
- The state where you live and work
- The type of care setting where you’ll practice
- The type of patients you primarily serve
In fact, certification is one reason some people might choose to earn their nurse practitioner masters degree in a graduate school over another format. A school based in the same state or community where you want to work might know a little more about what certification you’ll need in your area. Some may even help students prepare for the certification process through the way they design their curriculum. Follow up with individual schools as programs vary.
How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?
Nurse practitioner salary can be affected by a variety of factors. This includes level of experience, practice specialty, facility type, geographic area, and more. In 2015, the estimated national average salary for nurse practitioners was $98,190.ii Reach out to your school’s nursing department or career counseling services to learn more about nurse practitioner employment in your area.
Start Searching for Nurse Practitioner Masters Degree Schools
Begin searching for nurse practitioner masters degree schools here. GradSchools.com has collected a variety of potential schools for your considerations. Review the sponsored listings, and when you find an NP school you think you might be interested in, click on the program to learn more. Then get in touch to ask any questions, or even start your application!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm
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