So, you have decided you are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner. What are the next steps you should take?
Start now! There is discussion that a doctorate degree (DNP) will be required for graduation from nurse practitioner schools in 2015. While not all schools plan to require the DNP by 2015, many will so your educaiton options will become increasingly limited for getting a nurse practitioner degree at the master’s level. If you complete your nurse practitioner degree before this change you can get the same job and make the same amount of money with less schooling and therefore a mush lower cost!
One of the best things about the nurse practitioner career is the flexibility of options for your education. You can become a nurse practitioner if you are already a nurse or you can enroll in a school with a ‘bridge’ program allowing an individual with a degree in a field other than nursing to complete a nurse practitioner program. Most schools offer both full-time and part-time education options and are eager to accomodate working students with online courses and courses that are held on evenings or weekends.
How do you get started on your nurse practitoiner degree? First, research nurse practitoiner programs. If you do not have a nursing degree, find out which schools offer bridge programs (See Special Entry Options in the 2012 Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs in each school profile for this information). If you are open to relocating, which areas of the country would you be interested in attending school? Taking classes online can be very convenient especially if you plan to work while you complete your nurse practitoiner program (also convenient if you like to avoid traffic, stay at home in your pajamas, browse facebook while simultaneously listening to the professor etc.). ThriveAP’s Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs will be very helpful as it contains all of this information in a consolidated format.
Secondly, figure out what requirements for admission you will need to complete. What prerequisite classes do you need to take? Prerequisite requirements for each school can be found in ThriveAP’s Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs. Make sure your school of interest will accept credits from the school where you plan to take your prerequisite courses. Community colleges and online schools are an inexpensive and convenient way to complete your prerequisite coursework. Get a GRE book and start studying! Many nurse practitoiner programs require that you take the GRE before applying. I highly recommend purchasing a study book as it has likely been a while since you have done any SAT-like math problems.
Third, apply. Most schools require letters of recommendation, a basic online application and official transcripts. Also, if you are already a nurse you will need to be licensed in the state in which you plan to attend school. The ThriveAP Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs contains basic inforamtion regarding admission requirements.
Lastly, enjoy school and look forward to your new career!