What You Should Know About This Degree
Although students may be able to complete all of their coursework online in a given program, accredited nurse practitioner programs also have in-person requirements for clinical learning. Since healthcare is a human services field, this hands-on learning is key in preparing nurse practitioners treat and interact with patients. The number of clinical hours and the settings in which students complete vary based on the program and state regulations. When researching programs, find out the specifics of their clinical requirements, including what kind of placement assistance students receive from the program.
In order to provide services as a nurse practitioner, individuals must obtain a certification and licensure. National certification boards like the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners certify nurse practitioners. The certification process usually entails paying a fee and passing an examination. There is also a recertification process for maintaining credentials.
Nurse practitioners receive their licenses from the state in which they are practicing. State regulations can affect where a student receives their degree. If you are considering an online degree from a school in a different state, it’s important to confirm that the school is authorized to grant degrees to students in your home state, and that your state’s licensing board will recognize the degree.
When selecting an online nurse practitioner program, here are a few questions to ask:
- Am I eligible for this program? Most MSN programs seek students who already have a BSN and an RN license. Some schools offer “bridge programs” to students with an associate’s degree. Look at the eligibility requirements for programs to determine which one best suits your education and experience level.
- Is there an accelerated track to a Doctor of Nurse Practice? For students seeking a DNP, some schools offer an accelerated track that allows students to start working on the doctorate while completing the MSN program. They may also guarantee acceptance into the DNP program upon successful completion of the master’s. If this path interests you, look for a school that offers this kind of track, as it can save you time and money.
Be sure to look at all the program’s admission requirements and deadlines. Gathering your application materials well ahead of the submission deadline will help the process go smoothly. Financing your master’s degree is another important consideration. If you are already employed, find out if you are eligible for tuition assistance from your employer. You can also look into scholarships, assistantships, and financial aid.