Nurse practitioner is a type of advanced practice registered nurse who provides healthcare services to patients. The demand for the nurse practitioner position is increasingly growing. This article will shed light on everything you need to know about how to become a nurse practitioner

1. What Is a Nurse Practitioner?


Nurse practitioners are highly educated professionals who receive advanced training in a nursing field such as family nurse practice, psychiatric, women’s health, neonatal, pediatrics and adult-gerontology. Additionally, nurse practitioners diagnose and treat patients in outpatient clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals and community health centers.

Becoming a nurse practitioner can enhance the career advancement opportunities of a registered nurse as well as earning potential of a nurse practitioner. Although a nurse practitioner may need to spend 2-6 years on education and training, they find it well worth the time and effort. According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, the nurse practitioner positions may grow by 52% until 2030. 


how to become a nurse practitioner


Read this article to get more information about what nurse practitioners do, where they work and how long it takes to become a nurse practitioner.

Now, let’s look at steps on how to become a nurse practitioner


2. Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner


If you feel like being a nurse practitioner is appropriate for your career goals, you can refer to the following steps to become a nurse practitioner

2.1. Obtain Your Bachelor’s Degree


To start a career as a nurse practitioner, he/ she needs the right undergraduate training. In this case, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is usually the right option. This not only gives you the correct foundation instruction, but it also permits you to be licensed as a registered nurse. In addition, this offers you more chances to gain work experience which is really important for the next steps. 

2.2. Gain Work Experience as a Nurse


Before being admitted into nurse practitioner graduate programs, nurse practitioners need to hold work experience. You are recommended to check with the program you are about to attend to see how much experience you need.

Depending on the requirements of your program, you can apply the work experience you get while you are working on your graduate degree. Gaining work experience can assist you in deciding what specialty field you want to concentrate on as a  nurse practitioner.

This is considered an important step on the journey of becoming a nurse practitioner. 


steps to become a nurse practitioner


2.3. Enroll in a Graduate Program (MSN or DNP)


With the essential work hours in place, enroll in your graduate program. You can select either an MSN or a DNP program. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages. You can look at your career targets to choose an appropriate path. 

A master’s degree can help you obtain your nurse practitioner credentials faster and with less financial investment. It will work well if you wish to practice clinically in a particular specialty. Of course, you can pursue a DNP later if you desire. With an accelerated program, you can achieve an MSN within 24 months, which helps you start your career rapidly. 

A DNP is a good choice for nurses who know that they are seeking leadership positions while providing care for patients. This is the highest level of training a nurse can achieve. If you’re aware that you have an intention to obtain a doctoral degree at some point, it could be quicker and more affordable to begin with this route instead of gaining an MSN first.

Nevertheless, you are not required to possess a doctoral degree to practice as a nurse practitioner. Thus, you don’t need to follow this path if it is not appropriate to your career goals. 


2.4. Earn Your Advanced Practice Nursing Licensure in Practical Nursing


Once finishing your advanced practice degree, you are ready to get your license. The nurse practitioner licenses are issued by several organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). If you have a plan to practice in pediatrics, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board may be a good choice. You will need to attain your license prior to starting practicing. 

2.5. Get a Job as a Nurse Practitioner


After gaining your licenses, you can begin your career. Although many nurse practitioners choose to practice independently, you are advised to start your career by working under a doctor’s supervision or working at a large clinic setting. This will give you an idea of what the day-to-day work of a nurse practitioner will be as well as help you gain hands-on experience.  

The demand for nurse practitioners is estimated to grow by 45% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS; therefore, finding work will not be too hard. That said, there are several communities which have a higher or lower demand for these professionals; therefore, stay flexible until you find a job. 


2.6. Continued Education Requirements & Recertification for Nurse Practitioners


Nurse practitioner certifications will require recertification from time to time. To apply for recertification, you need to keep pursuing your education credits. You need to go on broadening your knowledge to make sure that you can stay at the forefront of your practice field. Bear in mind that the time frame for renewing your license will vary depending on the kind of license you have and the specialty aspect you are practicing. 

Above are six steps on how to become a nurse practitioner. To get closer to the target of becoming a nurse practitioner, you can do our free NCLEX Practice Questions

3. Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice


Nurse practitioners are employed by healthcare settings. Nurse practitioners can coordinate care, diagnose diseases and provide treatments for patients. They work as healthcare professionals, researchers, educators and advocates. In addition, in some states, they need to report to an overseeing doctor. Yet in others, they can practice on their own. If you are wondering How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner, this article will help you!


4. Nurse Practitioner Skills


Good researching is the first skill that a nurse practitioner should have. Nurse practitioners can be provided with a solid foundation of knowledge about many conditions, but patients’ symptoms aren’t sometimes presented clearly. Thus, nurse practitioners are required to research to find the root cause of their patient’s conditions. Additionally, nurse practitioners also need to have the ability to analyze well, pulling in various ideas to find solutions.

Leadership skills are also important. Nurse practitioners need to assist people in making the right choices about their health and well-being. Sometimes, they lead other nurses as well. 

Nurse practitioners also need to equip themselves with good communication skills. Even when coping with cultural and language barriers, good communication skills can help them do well in their work. It can be said the ability to communicate well with patients is one of the most important requirements of a nurse practitioner.


In this article, we have mentioned what a nurse practitioner is, the steps on how to become a nurse practitioner, the nurse practitioner’s scope of practice, and nurse practitioner skills. We hope that you will find it useful.