A number of different healthcare professionals can make up a medical team, and nurse practitioners play a vital role. NPS specializes in specific areas of nursing, such a family practice, pediatrics, or mental health. They are advanced practice nurses who typically hold an MSN degree in their area of nursing. Many RNs go on to complete these degrees and become NPs in an area they are passionate about. If you are at the start of your nursing career and are planning your educational journey or are already an RN looking to take the next steps, then online nursing programs could help you reach your goals.
How do you become a nurse practitioner?
There are many years of training required to work in any area of nursing, and the more advanced areas require a higher level of education, qualification, and experience. To become an NP, you will need to complete an MSN in your desired specialism of nursing, and online nursing programs can provide you with a flexible learning opportunity that gives you the skills and qualifications you need while allowing you to continue working in your current role while you study. These are BSN to MSN/NP programs and can take 24-30 months to complete. The course duration depends on which pathway you choose.
The pathways are:
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Degree, 28 months to complete
- Family Nurse Practitioner Degree, 30 months to complete
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Degree, 28 months to complete
- Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care, Nurse Practitioner Degree, 24 months to complete
Each pathway consists of different courses, such as Theoretical Perspectives for Advanced Practice and Moral and Ethical Decision-Making, which can be studied one at a time to make them more achievable. This follows the 7-1-7 model, a 7-week course, followed by a 1-week break before moving onto the next course. The online nursing programs are designed for practicing RNs who want to learn and boost their career while continuing to work in their current role during their studies.
There are also various entry requirements to fulfill, such as a 3.0 GPA, unrestricted and unencumbered current nursing license, and a BSN degree from a regionally accredited institution or nursing program. It is important to ensure that you are eligible for the courses you want to apply for to avoid disappointment and delays. Even if you do not yet know which area of nursing you would like to specialize in as an NP, it can still be a good idea to consider options for your future to have some kind of idea as to the training and experience that will be required of you.
Nurse Practitioners: What do they do?
NPS often works as part of a multidisciplinary medical team. They are highly skilled individuals with many vital technical and personal skills, and a large part of NP work revolves around promoting patient wellness through education. NPS are mid-level practitioners and are nonphysician clinicians. This means they perform many of the clinical and diagnostic functions of a medical doctor even though they are not trained as one. In some states, NPs can also practice independently and without the supervision of a physician. Working as an NP is demanding, and rigorous training is required, with most NP roles requiring an MSN at a minimum and some requiring a doctor of nursing practice. The online nursing programs can prepare you to work in the following NP roles:
Family Nurse Practitioner
FNPs understand the importance of family-centered healthcare and treat patients across all ages, genders, body systems, and diseases. When working as a Family Nurse Practitioner, you could find yourself working in a range of settings such as clinics, community centers, hospitals, and rural areas. FNP responsibilities can include prescribing medication, managing treatment plans, and educating patients to promote their health, assessments, and diagnoses.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners offer a range of mental health services to individuals, groups, or communities. When deciding to work as a PMHNP, you can decide to work as a generalist or as a specialist in forensics, geriatrics, or psychotherapy. The tasks of a PMHNP include assessing and diagnosing patients, consultancy, emergency psychiatric services, prescribing and managing medication, conducting therapy, and educating patients and staff.
Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Gerontology is the study of aging and old age, and AGNPs provide health care services to young adults and anyone above that age. When training to be an AGNP, there are two types; primary care and acute care, and the online nursing programs prepare you to work in primary care. This involves treating patients who are not normally ill, and your responsibilities may include assessing caregiver competence, educating patients and caregivers, promoting healthy life choices, and managing the transitions between care settings.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners specialize in providing healthcare services to patients from birth to the young adult stage, which is around 21 years old. There is a focus on primary care and preventative health and managing acute and chronic illnesses. As a PNP, your tasks may include prescribing medication, treating various illnesses and injuries, physical assessments, developmental check-ups, and providing emotional support to patients and their families.
These are the careers that online nursing programs can give you the skills and knowledge to be able to work in. Many further advanced nursing roles require higher levels of specialist training and completing online nursing programs can help make you eligible for these courses too. Once you have completed your course, you will also have to take further certification and licensing exams similar to when you obtained your RN license. Again, the exams can vary depending on your location, so it is important to consider which state you would like to practice in and take the exams accordingly.
What skills do you need to be a nurse practitioner?
When studying online nursing programs, you will learn the technical and medical skills required to work in your chosen field of nursing. There are also many personal skills that are required to work in nursing in any role or position. As an RN, it is likely that you will already possess many of these skills, but online nursing programs could help you learn how to develop them and apply them in the new situations you could find yourself in as an NP. These skills can include:
- Willingness to learn
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
Additionally, nurses may also often have a more holistic approach than other medical professionals, which means that they take many different elements and factors into account when dealing with a patient. They do not just see the person as their illness or injury, but as an individual, and consider factors other than just the physical, such as their social environment, psychological, cultural, and religious beliefs.
Online nursing programs will arm you with the practical and personal skills you will need to work in your chosen area of nursing, helping you provide high-quality healthcare services to your patients, as well as emotional support and advice to them and their loved ones. It is also incredibly important to work well as a team, as you will often be part of a larger team consisting of other medical professionals and other individuals such as social workers or probation officers. You will all have the best interests of the patient at heart and need to collaborate to come to the most appropriate solutions.
What are the benefits of studying online?
The online nursing programs use blended learning, which is a combination of learning and teaching techniques. The courses are taught mostly online, with practical elements such as classes, internships, or placements, allowing you to put your new skills into practice in the workplace. In addition, blended learning is a flexible study option, making it ideal for RNs who want to study while still working. If this, is you, then online nursing programs could a great way to boost your career and qualifications and grow personally and professionally.
Being a student can be very expensive, and the costs involved can be the main factor as to why people may not pursue further education, especially if you already have a job and qualifications. Online courses could help you save money, reducing or removing some of the expenses. These include transport, accommodation, tuition, and living costs. For example, tuition fees for online courses may be cheaper than in-person courses, and you may also be eligible for financial support. Furthermore, learning online means a lot of the work is done from home, so you will spend less time and money commuting. The ability to work alongside your course also means that you can continue to earn money while you study.
When you study online nursing programs, you will learn many new technical skills and build upon ones you already have. In addition, online learning itself can help you develop personal, non-technical skills that are useful in any workplace or industry. These are soft skills and look great on your CV, as they show potential employers that you are a capable and competent employee and would make a great addition to their staff. Soft skills include traits such as creativity, problem-solving, communication, creativity, conflict resolution, time management, teamwork, and self-motivation, some of which are particularly beneficial for nurses.
Online courses allow you to practice and develop these skills and provide practical examples to potential employers in an interview setting. For example, nurses need excellent organizational skills, as they have multiple patients at one time, and all need to receive the same level of care and support. Therefore, when taking online nursing programs, you will need to also be organized in order to complete your course to a high level while continuing to work alongside it.
When you are a student, your physical location can have an impact on the university you study at and the types of courses that are available to you. For example, your local university may not offer the subject, qualification level, or flexible study that you need, which can cause delays in your career advancement. However, with online nursing programs, a large part of the learning is done online, which means your physical location can be less of a barrier. Furthermore, you will also have more control over the area you learn at home, allowing you to create a space that works for you and your requirements.
Online learning is incredibly flexible, from the course choice and location down to the schedule of studying. The online nursing programs are aimed at RNs who are currently practicing, providing a high level of education that also allows them to continue working. The flexible learning environment and methods used in blended learning can help make the experience more enjoyable and productive and are a popular alternative for those who are unable to commit to full-time, in-person education for any reason. Increased control over the pace of your studies lets you take more time to absorb information and ask questions, helping you better understand the content and feeling more confident in yourself. Distance learning can also make you a more independent learner, providing the opportunity to develop useful learning skills and techniques that you can use in the future.
Working as a nurse practitioner requires a lot of training and experience, but it is a very rewarding career. You will be able to delve deeper into an area of nursing that you are truly passionate about, helping many different people both medically and emotionally. There are also plenty of benefits to furthering your education. Not only do higher-level jobs usually require higher qualifications, but they can also increase your earning potential, job opportunities, and give you access to education and individuals that you may not have access to outside of an educational setting. Online nursing programs are a great way to help you grow both personally and professionally and assist you on your way to working in your dream nursing role.