Nurse Practitioner Program

What is the coursework like for a nurse practitioner student?

Because becoming a nurse practitioner carries with it the potential to be a primary care provider with all the responsibility for diagnosing, prescribing tests and medication, ordering treatments and providing health management, the education for nurse practitioners is rigorous and challenging. A nurse practitioner needs to be deeply familiar with all the body's systems, disease processes, preventative care and medicine, and pharmacology. An NP must be aware of the most current diagnostics and therapies, and understand the dynamics of health maintenance.

Some of the classes an NP might take include:

Family Nursing
Research Methods
Health Assessment
Health Policy
Mental Health Nursing
Nursing Care of Older Adults
Legal and Ethical Issues in Nursing
Pediatric Nursing
Community Health

Additional classes that may be more broadly classified as nursing theory, or nursing seminars discuss professional issues in nursing and primary care, including health promotion, health policy and the changing role of nurse care providers, patient advocacy and critical thinking.

How are nurse practitioner courses different than other nursing programs?

Courses in MSN programs that are oriented towards student successfully passing the national certification examinations take clinical nursing education further and to greater levels of complexity than associate's or bachelor's programs. While the basics of require assuming this level of responsibility, an NPs education involves a much more thorough exploration of the body's systems and the dynamics of diagnosing a condition. They must then be prepared to order the necessary management of the condition, as well as educate patients or their families. Advanced training in health practices is necessary for nurse practitioners to be able to provide all the aspects of health care delivery that they are responsible for.

Are courses the same at every NP program?

Courses at different learning institutions may vary slightly, but accredited institutions follow course guidelines that are set on a national level. Two institutions accredit nursing programs in the United States: the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The primary organization in the United States that offers certifications for nurse practitioners, The American Nurses Credentialing Center, requires that a candidate attend an accredited nursing program. All accredited programs revolve around a core curriculum set by the accrediting agency, so programs at different learning institutions, even in different states, will bear a strong resemblance to one another. One advantage to this system is that a nurse practitioner that is licensed to practice in one state will find reciprocity with other states, because the requirements for education and clinical training are comparable no matter where an education was received.

Are nurse practitioner program all class-based?

Although a challenging and thorough classroom based education is the foundation of any nursing program, nursing is by definition a hands-on profession. Practical clinical training is essential to the development of a qualified health care provider, and nurse practitioner programs ensure that their graduates have received enough hours in real-world clinical settings to be exceptionally skilled practitioners. The ANCC, requires candidates to have completed at least 500 faculty supervised clinical hours in order to be eligible to sit for the national exam.

Can I take any classes online?

Many nurse practitioner schools are now offering part or all of their curriculum online. Many traditional brick-and-mortar institutions are finding that offering some of their courses online is a benefit to students who are also working or who have families. Additionally, some programs now offer entire programs online. These programs are typically limited to candidates who either have current nursing degrees or non-nursing baccalaureate degrees, but the convenience of a curriculum available online is an advantage to many students who otherwise could not attend an intensive program at a remote university. These programs are just as challenging as their traditional counterparts, and many of them do not accommodate self-paced learning. Also, the clinical component of the NP program is still mandatory, but many students are able to locate local medical facilities that will allow them to organize a practical experience. Most online programs also have coordinators that will help students organize practical experiences in their home communities.

Nurse Practitioner Schools