Almost all the career options in the healthcare industry are in high demand, particularly nursing. Nurses care for their patients in different ways, and a person who indulges in extra training to become a nurse practitioner has a greater scope of responsibilities. A nurse practitioner (NP) or ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) in some of the jurisdictions executes tasks that are comparably little equal to that of a doctor, such as ordering and interpreting test results, prescribing medication, or performing minor surgeries. Online Nurse Practitioner programs generally culminate in a Master’s Degree, and some of the online schools are offering a Doctoral Degree too.
It is advised to select an accredited program as Nurse Practitioner students generally intend to seek license. Degrees earned through non-accredited schools are not recognized by licensing and certification boards. You can check the list of accredited universities and colleges through the United States Department of Education.
Available Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
The two Nurse Practitioner programs offered by online schools include Master’s Degree and Doctorate Degree.
Online Nurse Practitioner Programs – Master’s Degree
A MSN (Master of Science in Nurse) degree prepares you for advanced nursing practice roles. This program mainly focuses on advanced nursing principles and theory in the design and delivery of primary health care. Once after finishing the graduation, you can take the national certification exam.
A MSN also establishes a foundation for you to pursue Doctoral Studies in Nursing. In order to be qualified to the course, you need to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and a RN (registered nurse) license. You may require completing basic computer courses or statistics to enter the program. It requires you to complete 42 to 48 credits during graduation including clinical practice hours. You can complete the program in 2-years as a full-time student; else you may require 3 to 6 years to finish the same as a part-time student.
Master’s curriculum focuses mainly on managing chronic & acute health problems and offering sensitive healthcare. You can take a combination of foundation and clinical courses. Foundation course include nursing theory, ethics, diversity, health policy, advance practice nursing roles, and research. On the other hand, clinical courses make you ready with skills in advanced nursing practices, assessment, pharmacology, patho-physiology, and anatomy and physiology.
Nurse Practitioner Doctorate Degrees (Online)
An online DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree prepares you for the highest education level of nursing practice. It is clinical in nature. It trains you to become familiar with leadership roles in the healthcare. DNPs are available in fields such as family practice, women’s health, adult gerontology, and mental health. You can use your knowledge of evidence based research for a specialist role in nursing administration, research and policy.
You can also get qualified for senior faculty positions in nursing educational institutions. Some people pursue careers in public policy, public health, legislation, forensics, entrepreneurship, consultancy, and case management.
You should hold a Master’s Degree in the relevant field in order to be qualified for the DNP program. You should also hold a current RN license. If you have only a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), you can join BSN-to-DSN program to enroll yourself in doctoral nursing without having to study a graduate degree. However, it lasts for 4 to 5 years, and it requires about 65 to 75 credit hours with about 1,000 clinical practice hours.
Online Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs
Online graduate certificate program is available only for Registered Nurses who have either Doctoral Degree or Master’s Degree and willing to pursue advanced and specialized nursing roles. Most of the common nursing practice certificates are intended for family practice NPs. However, there are certificate programs available also for neonatal, psychiatric care, and adult-gerontology. These certificate programs range from 26 to 50 credit hours and last for 2 to 5 years – depending on whether you attend part-time or full-time.
As most of the online nursing practitioner certificate programs are developed for currently practicing nurses, they offer a part-time, flexible learning format to accommodate your work schedules.
Completion of an accredited nursing practitioner certificate program will let you qualify to take a certification exam with the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) or the AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners).
Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs
You need at least a Master’s Degree in Advanced Nursing skills in order to become certified. Accelerated Nursing Practitioner programs offer a way for current registered nurses or non-nurses to earn a master’s credential in a shorter time period. The nursing practitioner master’s degree is a specialized program; you need to decide the area of advanced practice care you would like to work in. Prospective clinical areas include adult care, mental/psychiatric health nursing, pediatric nursing, geriatric care, family care, and acute care. There are 2 types of accelerated NP programs – one for non-nurses and the other for current registered nurses.
Some of the common course eligibilities in accelerated nursing practitioner degree programs include:
- Applied Pharmacology
- Advanced Patho-physiology
- Evaluating Evidence in Advanced Practice Nursing
- Health Assessment and Diagnosis
The Importance Of Accreditation
While choosing an online certificate NP program or degree NP program, you should be considering accreditation as a critical factor. The main reason for attending accredited programs is most of the nursing certification examination are open only for those who have completed a similar type or the same. A program that is accredited meets the high standards as set by independent agencies with regards to its curricula, faculty’s qualifications, ability of preparing well-educated graduates, and so on. Accreditation of a program also guarantees that all the credits you have earned will be transferable and that your program will assist you meet the requirements to be eligible for financial aid.
Nursing practitioner programs can be accredited either by programmatic accrediting agencies like ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.) or CCNE (Collegiate Nursing Education), or by institutional accrediting agencies like Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The United States of Education board and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation manage databases of all the accredited programs and schools.