One of the great things about the nurse practitioner profession is that multiple educational paths lead to becoming an NP. If you choose to become a nurse practitioner later in life, or simply after you have already begun your college education, there are still plenty of programs available to accommodate your needs. MEPN programs, or Master’s Entry Programs in Nursing, are one option.
MEPN programs, also known as accelerated NP programs, bridge programs and direct entry MSN programs, allow students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing to become nurse practitioners in just two to three years. The first year of the program renders students and RN degree while the second year covers master’s level nursing material. Many schools offer multiple MEPN specialty options allowing students to become family nurse practitioners, acute care nurse practitioners, women’s health nurse practitioners and more. Upon completion of an MEPN program, students are prepared to take the national nurse practitioner certification exam and practice as certified nurse practitioners.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Personally, I majored in biology as an undergraduate. Near the end of my undergraduate degree, I decided to become a nurse practitioner. Even though I did not have any nursing experience and had not completed any nursing courses aside from the program’s prerequisites, I was able to become an NP in just two years. Although this accelerated path sounds like the perfect solution for quickly becoming an NP, it’s not right for everyone.
MEPN programs have a few drawbacks. First, most of these programs must be completed on a full-time, on-campus basis. While parts of these programs may be completed online, most programs require you to relocate to the area where you will attend your NP program. Students will find it difficult to work while completing an MEPN program as these programs require a significant time commitment. Most days MEPN students will find themselves in class or in clinical placements for the majority of the day. Studying and completing assignments takes up much of students free time leaving little if no time to hold a job.
Secondly, MEPN programs are more expensive than taking a lengthier path to becoming an NP. If you are considering a career change and do not hold a nursing degree, your cheapest option for becoming a nurse practitioner is probably to become an RN or BSN at a local community college or through an online program then apply to NP programs. While this path will take years longer than attending an MEPN program, it will be less costly. You must consider however, that by becoming a nurse practitioner more quickly you will start earning an NP salary sooner offsetting some of your educational cost.
If you’re looking to become a nurse practitioner and have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, MEPN, or direct entry MSN programs, are an excellent option to consider. With some hard work and commitment you could become a nurse practitioner in just two to three years.
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