In the medical aspect, nurse practitioners are highly educated professionals who provide primary care and other high-level medical services to patients. To become a nurse practitioner, you typically have to experience six to eight years of education and training. This article will shed light on what a nurse practitioner does, the working environment of nurse practitioners as well as how long does it take to become a nurse practitioner.


1. What Does A Nurse Practitioner Do?


A nurse practitioner is a licensed medical professional who has the highest level of responsibility and treatment power in the nursing area. The duties of a nurse practitioner include examining patients, providing diagnoses, prescribing medication and treatment and others. 

Nurse practitioners have the same medical abilities as physicians. Additionally, they are considered to possess full practice authority in 20 states in the United States. With this authority, nurse practitioners do not need a doctor’s observation while practicing. Meanwhile, in other states in the U.S., doctor’s supervision is required while nurse practitioners are practicing. 

The specialization and place of work of a nurse practitioner may decide his/ her exact duties. A nurse practitioner may concentrate on common specialties below: 

  • Women’s health care
  • Acute care
  • Family care
  • Neonatal medicine
  • Pediatric care
  • Psychiatric mental health care

In addition, a nurse practitioner may be trained in some subspecialties, comprising: 

  • Hospice
  • Sports medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgical
  • Gastroenterology
  • Emergency room
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Occupational health
  • Dermatology
  • Allergy and immunology
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Geriatrics
  • Urology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pulmonology/respiratory

Regardless of what the specialty of a nurse practitioner is, common duties and responsibilities of most nurse practitioners include: 

  • Monitor patients’ health and progress
  • Create patient treatment plans
  • Provide diagnoses based on findings
  • Work as part of a healthcare team to provide comprehensive patient care
  • Take patient medical histories
  • Monitor and use medical equipment
  • Order and administer any diagnostic tests
  • Prescribe medications and treatment
  • Provide primary care to patients
  • Discuss symptoms

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2. How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse Practitioner?


Now, let’s move to discuss how long does it take to become a nurse practitioner. 

To become a nurse practitioner, you may need to experience from six to eight years of education and training. Below are the steps that a person must take to become a nurse practitioner and the time each step lasts to finish. 


how long to become a nurse practitioner


  1. Complete a registered nurse (RN) program (two to four years.)
  2. Attain a master’s degree (two to three years.)
  3. Take and pass the APRN certification exam (less than one year.)


2.1. Complete a registered nurse (RN) program (two to four years)


Firstly, to become a nurse practitioner, you need to complete a registered nurse program by acquiring a bachelor’s degree, a diploma or an associate degree in a nursing program. Obtaining a diploma or associate degree may take from two to three years; whereas, gaining a bachelor’s nursing program typically takes four years.

You can refer to the five following bachelor’s degrees: 


Those who are already either licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses can attend this program. Individuals attending this program may obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing after about four semesters or two years. 


A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is for people who have no prior experience or licensure in the nursing area. It may take four years to complete this degree. 


RN-to-BSN can be pursued by registered nurses who have already possessed an associate degree or diploma. This degree takes about two years to finish. 

Accelerated Degree BSN

Those who wish to finish their BSN in a short period of time, accelerated Degree BSN is a good choice. The accelerated Degree BSN typically takes 12 to 20 months to finish. 

Second-degree BSN

Second-degree BSN is designed for people who have already achieved a bachelor’s degree in various fields and are seeking to make a career change. It often takes about two years to complete. 

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree consists of common courses such as physical and health examination, disease prevention and genetics and genomics. Once finishing an RN program, aspiring nurse practitioners need to sit for and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to get their RN license.


>>> Read more: NCLEX tips


2.2. Attain a master’s degree (two to three years)


Completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the next step to become a nurse practitioner. Family nurse practitioner, women’s health practitioner, primary care practitioner and neonatal medicine are common areas of study for this degree. 

You may need to spend two to three years to complete an MSN program. A Master of Science in Nursing program comprises common courses such as clinical practicum, health care policy and advanced concepts in pharmacology and health care ethics. 


2.3. Take and pass the APRN certification exam (less than one year)


After finishing an  MSN program, aspiring nurse practitioners will need to sit for and pass the certification exam to become a certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). The time for studying to take and pass the exam may be different but most people finish this in less than a year. 

Those who desire to pursue a career in a specialty nurse practitioner field may achieve their certification through organizations such as the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board or the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, depending on the field that they choose. 

To qualify to take the test, an individual must hold a valid Registered Nurse license as well as have a minimum of 500 clinical hours under a doctor’s supervision. 

We have mentioned required steps to become a nurse practitioner as well as how long does it take to become a nurse practitioner.


3. Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work?


Hospitals, private or community health centers, correctional facilities and physicians’ offices are places where nurse practitioners may work at. The environment where a nurse practitioner works in may depend on what type of specialty area they want to concentrate on. For instance, the cardiologist’s office may be the working environment for nurse practitioners who want to take care of patients with heart conditions. 


4. Is Becoming a Nurse Practitioner a Good Career Choice?


Only you can feel whether one career choice is good for you. Nevertheless, if you are interested in taking care of other people as well as want to earn a reliable income, becoming a nurse practitioner may be an ideal career option. Based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates and other sources such as the U.S. News and World Report, one can see that the job opportunities and earning potential will be very bright. The following information can partly help you in deciding whether to choose this job or not. 


becoming a nurse practitioner may be an ideal career option


Annual Job Openings: According to the statistics of the U.S. Bureau of Labor, there are nearly 24,000 job openings for nurse practitioners every year. This figure demonstrates the promising future of this job. 

Earning Potential: Earning potential for nurse practitioners is affected by a number of factors such as the place where a nurse practitioner lives, the amount of experience he/ she has, the shift he/ she works and geographical location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the salary of a nurse practitioner is $53.77 per hour ($9,320 monthly or $111,840 annually). 

Job Outlook: With an estimated job growth rate of more than 28% between 2019 and 2029, the job outlook for nurse practitioners is really brilliant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 320,000 nurse practitioner jobs will be offered by 2029.

Job Satisfaction: A Medscape survey that was based on data submitted by nurse practitioners showed that 96% of them said that they feel satisfied with their job. Besides, almost half of nurse practitioners surveyed said that the chance to enrich patients’ lives is the most rewarding part of their jobs.


We have provided the responsibilities of nurse practitioners, their workplaces, and how long it takes to become a nurse practitioner. Hopefully, this article is useful to you.