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Nurse Practitioner Career Plan

Nurse practitioners take on many of the roles that were traditionally reserved for doctors, but their education is spread out over time. There are two main steps to becoming a nurse practitioner: completing an undergraduate program to become an RN and completing a graduate program to become an APRN. Of course there are many small steps along the way. This article breaks them down.

  1. Step 1: Take advantage of educational opportunities at the high school level. Take some advanced placement or honors courses if you can. Math and science classes, like chemistry, biology, and algebra, will be particularly helpful. You will also need strong composition skills.

  2. Step 2: Try to get some experience out in the field early on. There are numerous career exploration programs for future nurses, and many of them are free. You can enroll in an enrichment program during the school year or a nursing camp during the summer. Many camps are offered by schools of nursing; others are offered by local hospitals or by AHEC centers.

    You can also volunteer at a hospital or become a Certified Nursing Assistant. These experiences can make you more competitive for programs.

  3. Step 3: Research RN programs that are accredited by the AACN or the NLNAC and approved by your state board. Although associateís programs are acceptable for RN licensing, a baccalaureate program will bring you closer to your ultimate goal.

  4. Step 4: Complete admission requirements and prerequisite classes.

  5. Step 5: Excel in classwork and field experiences.

  6. Step 6: Take the NCLEX exam and fulfill other licensing requirements. You may be able to get an RN job under a provisional license while awaiting exam results.

  7. Step 7: Look to your state board for guidelines about becoming an advanced practice registered nurse. There may be minimum experience requirements, but you can begin taking classes while working as an RN. There are still some masterís level programs, but at the recommendation of the AACN and other professional health care organizations, most are transitioning to the doctoral level.

  8. Step 8: Seek out a position in advanced practice. There are loan repayment programs for exemplary candidates who are willing to serve where the need is high.

Personality Traits: Nurse practitioners have people savvy and scientific aptitude. They are proactive and take on multiple roles: clinician, educator, and advocate.

Nurse Practitioner Education Options