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Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Nursing is one of the most in-demand jobs in a competitive employment landscape. Healthcare has always been a personal priority for many, and it is also a governmental priority because a healthy populace is, in general, a happy populace.

Not only are nurses in demand, but they also enjoy knowing that they make a significant difference in others’ lives. Unlike many jobs where convenience, ease, income or job perks can be a big consideration, many nurses speak of their profession as a calling rather than simply a job.

For those already working in the nursing field who want to advance their careers, one of the most popular options is to become a nurse practitioner (NP).

What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is a nurse with advanced education and experience. This level of experience and education often enables NPs to find work in leadership positions in specialized nursing fields, such as gerontology, psychiatry, surgery, neonatal and acute care, to name a few. Some nurse practitioners choose to work in administration, pharmacology or research.

Nurse practitioners may prescribe medication, diagnose illnesses and order tests. They typically practice independently without a great deal of supervision. It is no exaggeration to say nurse practitioners are among the most elite and skilled members of the nursing profession.

How Do You Become a Nurse Practitioner?

There are several ways to become a nurse practitioner.

You must first be a registered nurse (RN) to become a nurse practitioner. There are several ways to become an RN. One way is to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from an accredited college or university, which usually takes about two years. Another popular option is to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This degree takes approximately four years, and it opens many more employment options.

No matter how you decide to become an RN, all graduates must take a standardized licensure exam (known as the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse.

Once you are an RN, you can either practice nursing for a few years to determine your area of interest, or in some programs you can go directly into an advanced degree in nursing program. The minimum degree necessary to be a nurse practitioner is a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Usually, MSN programs require RNs to have a BSN degree. However, since not every RN has a BSN, many universities offer an accelerated RN to BSN degree program.

Before you can practice as a nurse practitioner, you must be licensed (and licensing requirements vary by state) and pass a national certification exam.

What Is the Right Educational Path for You?

The demand for nurses shows no signs of abating. In response, many higher learning institutions offer nursing programs that produce graduates with the education and skills to excel as nurse practitioners.

The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing. UTA is a respected leader in healthcare education, and The College of Nursing and Health Innovation is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Students who are not already nurses can enroll in UTA’s BSN program. For students who are already RNs but are looking to advance their careers, UTA offers an accelerated RN to BSN and an RN to MSN program that students can complete in as few as nine months.

UTA also offers several Master of Science in Nursing specialty streams, such as nursing administrator, nursing educator, adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner. These programs give students the skills and knowledge they need to assume advanced leadership roles in the nursing field.

Especially appealing are UTA’s pass rates. Graduates of the Nurse Practitioner programs have a pass rate of over 96 percent on national certification exams. Graduates of the Nursing Administration Program have a 100 percent pass rate on the advanced administration national certification exam.

Best of all, UTA offers its nursing courses online. The online study option is particularly important for working nurses considering becoming nurse practitioners. An online degree program allows working professionals to earn a degree without disrupting their existing personal or professional obligations.

Learn more about UTA’s online nursing degree programs.


The Houston Chronicle — How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

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