Choosing to become a nurse practitioner is an excellent career decision for many RNs. Working as a nurse practitioner offers RNs the opportunity for increased autonomy. RNNPs have an expanded role in directing patient care.
Nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings. A nurse may choose to become a family nurse practitioner or choose a specialty area. Some become midwives. Others choose to work with specific patient populations, such as pediatric nurse practitioners or as gerontological specialists. The projected job market for nurse practitioners is strong. Pay is significantly higher than for several other nursing careers.
There are different paths that nurses may choose from in seeking an education as an RNNP. Programs are offered at the Masters and Doctoral levels. Some nursing students purse an advanced practice degree right from the start. Many seek to further their education in increments.
Nurses often enter the nursing field with a degree as a registered nurse with an Associates of Science degree.
Many health care employers offer reimbursement for continuing education expenses. These employment benefits allow nurses to pursue further career goals, such as obtaining a Bachelors degree in nursing in preparation for entering Master’s degree programs for advance practice nursing careers. Employers generally reimburse for just one or two courses per semester, so if relying on reimbursement, nurses need to budget for paying for non-reimbursable courses if they choose to take several courses simultaneously. Most tuition reimbursement programs require that the nurse pay tuition and then the employer reimburses them at course completion. Reimbursement percentages are often linked to the grades that the student obtains. Employer tuition reimbursement programs usually pay for tuition , but not books, fees , and other expenses .
Some health care facilities have contracts with local universities which provide opportunities on or near the health care campus. Employers may specify that they only reimburse courses taught at specific colleges or universities. They frequently require a work commitment after graduation. Health care facilities may offer tuition reimbursement for an advanced degree, such as a nurse practitioner, only if they have a need for a particular area of specialization.
Seeking a degree as a nurse practitioner is expensive. Several colleges and universities offer discounts to nurses who need to obtain a bachelors degree prior to entering the master’s level program. The savings may be considerable. Degree costs vary greatly so investigate programs closely.
Online as well as on campus programs are available for nurse practitioner students. Online programs are a convenient option especially if the nurse has family commitments or is employed. Keep in mind that while working on courses online you will still need to be following a full time schedule of coursework, and as you progress, clinical hours will increase as well. This is challenging for nurses who are currently employed. If working as a nurse full time, while pursuing a nurse practitioner degree full time, you essentially are working two full time demanding jobs.
Nurse practitioner students need to arrange for several preceptors to supervise their internships. You will be working as an intern for three semesters. Unlike lower level degree course work, nurse practitioner students arrange for their own preceptorships directly with physicians and nurse practitioners. You may want to join a nurse practitioner group for recommendations regarding nurse practitioners and physicians who are willing to be a preceptor. Finding people who are willing may be a challenge.
It is important that you develop excellent rapport with the potential preceptor to be sure that you are compatible and that the preceptor understands their role and is comfortable teaching and guiding you. Preceptorships frequently take time to arrange as many health care agencies have stringent guidelines about preceptorships.
With a changeable economic climate, and regulatory changes that are common in healthcare, sometimes preceptorships are ended by health care agencies without notice. This may occur even if the student and preceptor agree that they want to work together.
Despite the financial burden, stress of balancing work and school, fatigue, and challenges related to gaining clinical experience, becoming a nurse practitioner remains a very desirable goal for many nurses. Proper planning and a pro-active attitude with an eye on the prize makes the challenges easier to surmount.