MSN: Nurse Practitioner (NP) Degree Programs

A nurse practitioner (NP) is one of four types of advanced practice registered nurses, the others being clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. A Master of Science degree in nursing (MSN) along with status as a registered nurse are required before becoming a nurse practitioner. NPs serve as primary and specialty care providers in a number of areas, including general practice, acute care, adult health, family health, psychiatric and mental health, and women’s health, to name a few. For adult, gerontological, and family nurse practitioners, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offers a certification program.

How to Become a NP

To become a nurse practitioner, students typically complete the following steps:

  1. Complete an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing program
  2. Earn a Registered Nurse Certification
  3. Meet the professional experience conditions
  4. Choose an area of specialization such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or women’s health
  5. Enroll and complete an MSN degree with a nurse practitioner concentration
  6. Obtain NP certification and proper licensure (requirements vary by state)

NP Salary and Career Information

The expected salary, career growth, and work environment for a nurse practitioner might include:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2013 the mean annual wage of a nurse practitioner was $95,070.
  • Job Prospects: Very good to excellent
  • Job Setting: Private practices, nursing homes, hospitals, public health organizations, boards of health and education, educational institutions, home health care agencies

NP Qualifications

To become a nurse practitioner, students are typically required to meet the following job qualifications:

  • NP Advanced Practice Certification
  • Experience and possibly additional certification in a specialty area including: neurology, oncology, rehabilitation, trauma nursing, adolescent health, neonatal, pediatric oncology, pediatric pulmonary, school health nursing, anesthesiology, community health, home health care, hospice nursing, occupational health, women’s health

NP Job Description

A nurse practitioner is typically responsible for the following job duties:

  • Examine patients to evaluate their medical and physical conditions and develop specific care plans based on health assessment
  • Work closely with physicians and other medical professionals to aid in patient diagnosis
  • Act at point of contact for patients when physician is not on site or unable to unavailable for consultation
  • Develop a plan of care that address patients’ unique conditions and prescribe proper medication (prescriptive authority varies by state)
  • Provide educational and therapeutic support to patients on how best to manage symptoms
  • Consult with other nurses and medical professionals to improve patient outcomes

Nurse Practitioner Specializations