What You Should Know About This Degree
Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists are referred to collectively as advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs. All must have a master’s degree and be licensed registered nurses in their home state. They will have passed a national certification exam and have a state APRN license.
If becoming an APRN interests you, you’ll need to be an RN with an undergraduate nursing degree to qualify for most master’s degree programs. A few offer bridge programs for RNs with an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing. Other programs may be willing to work with you if you have an undergraduate degree in a related healthcare field.
There are several possible certifications for nurse practitioners. Your first step should be to check with your state’s licensing board to see what you need to practice legally in your state. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board is a good source of information, as is The American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Nurse Practitioner degree programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? To be eligible for a Nurse Practitioner master’s program, you will need an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Some programs require you to have a registered nursing license and be working already in the field. Others will only want a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field.
- Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online programs are generally delivered in one of two ways. Synchronous classes are held in real time, and you need to attend the class remotely at the assigned time. Asynchronous classes are pre-recorded, and you may watch the class at your convenience. There may be some flexibility, as well, in when assignments must be submitted.
When researching programs, note any specialties of the program you’re interested in — such as gerontology or pediatric care. There may be additional certifications or licensing needed for particular areas of nursing. Admissions counselors can be an excellent source of information. They are often available via live chat during business hours, and can answer your questions about the program you’re interested in.
Financial aid — either needs-based or merit-based — may be available from your college or university. But don’t stop there when looking for support. You may be able to find scholarship, grant, or loan support through your place of employment or professional organizations to which you belong.