Welcome to another session on Nurse Practitioner Programs.
Today, we want to dig deep into the available Nurse Practitioner Programs.
By the end of the session, you’ll have learned about the top MSN Programs for NPs and what you need to consider before enrolling in an NP Program.
We’ll further enlighten you on NP Specialty areas.
In summary, we’ll talk about:
Let’s jump straight into it.
Types of Nurse Practitioner Programs
There are several routes to becoming a Nurse Practitioner.
The different programs you can pursue depend on your current level of education.
So, here is a breakdown of the different types of Nurse Practitioner Programs you can enroll in.
Accelerated NP Programs
Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs are for aspiring NPs who have a degree in a different field but want to become APRNs.
Some Nursing Schools allow candidates to pursue MSN Nursing Programs alongside the BSN Program.
In this case, candidates will be awarded a Bachelor of Science in Nursing en route to earning their Master of Science in Nursing.
Other institutions offer one degree program at a time.
Graduate Certification Programs for NPs
Graduate certification programs are post-master’s certifications that NPs pursue to further specialize in their practice.
To qualify for these Graduate Nursing certifications, NPs must have an active RN license and an APRN national Nurse Practitioner Certification.
These programs may include certifications in specialty areas such as Psychiatric Mental Health, Acute Care, or Women’s Health.
Dual Degree NP Programs
Registered Nurses that would love to widen their horizons will find the dual degree programs the perfect fit.
Dual programs are interdisciplinary courses that allow an aspiring NP to pursue two specialty areas or combine a Nurse Practitioner course with another area in health care, such as public health or health care administration.
Bridge NP Programs
Bridge Nurse Practitioner Programs include RN-to-MSN Programs or ADN-to-MSN Programs.
These programs allow Registered Nurses with an associate degree to pursue a master’s degree without necessarily pursuing a BSN first.
If one is studying on a full-time basis, the program can take around 2-3 years to complete.
Students are required to complete 60 credit hours of coursework during the study period.
There are also clinical practice hours to be met.
BSN-to-DNP Programs are also part of bridge programs.
These programs allow RNs with a bachelor’s degree to earn a Master of Science in Nursing while on their way to earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs
This is the highest education qualification for Nurse Practitioners.
The full-time DNP Program takes two years to complete.
However, most Nursing students juggle between a full-time Nursing career and education.
And so, they often resort to part-time NP Programs, which take longer, around four years.
With online DNP Programs, more and more NPs can pursue their doctoral degree without the inconvenience of traveling back and forth to class.
The new frenzy to pursue DNP can be linked to the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) report that a Doctor of Nursing Practice will be the minimum requirement to become a Nurse Practitioner by 2025.
Top Nurse Practitioner Programs
There are many institutions of higher learning offering accredited APRN Programs.
All these institutions meet the curriculum requirement, including coursework and clinical practicum.
And since they are over 400 Schools of Nursing, we’ve rounded up the six best NP Programs you can join either online or in person.
But before we give you a highlight of these programs, let’s cover the general admission requirements to join NP Programs.
The prerequisites to pursue an MSN Nurse Practitioner Program includes:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- An active RN license
- 2-3 recommendation letters
- Documented clinical experience
- Official transcripts
- An essay
The enrollment requirements for candidates interested in DNP are the same, except they have to provide a Master of Science Degree certificate instead of a BSN Degree.
The years of experience required may also vary depending on the provider.
Now, that’s out of the way.
Let’s look into the best Nurse Practitioner Programs.
Duke University offers Nurse Practitioners MSN Programs with several specializations.
Let’s kick off its NP Courses with the psychiatric NP Program.
The coursework equips Nursing students with the expertise to provide psychiatric mental health care to patients of all ages.
The program’s main area of focus is training NPs to work with patients in underserved communities in rural areas.
Students learn in a wide variety of clinical settings, including residential mental health care facilities, emergency departments, Intensive Care Units, and inpatient wings of hospitals.
Duke University also offers a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program.
This PNP Program provides hands-on clinical practice in hospitals, ambulatory care, school-based health clinics, and community pediatric practices.
This master’s degree program equips RNs with the skill to care for children of all ages.
The core of the course covers chronic and acute pediatric illness, primary health care for children, health maintenance and prevention, behavior change, and patient/family education.
Third, one can pursue a Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty.
The FNP Program trains aspiring NPs to be the Primary Care Providers for patients across the lifespan.
This Family Nurse Practitioner Program focuses on building up FNPs to work in Advanced Clinical Practice across all primary care settings.
Another NP Program you can pursue at Duke University is Adult-Gerontology.
The AGNP Program provides several subspecialty programs, including orthopedics, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, and HIV.
Lastly, there’s the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Program.
This program provides aspiring RNs with the knowledge to work in a wide range of Acute Care settings, including ICU, Emergency Department, and Argent Care.
Apart from these APRN master’s programs, Duke has several certification programs that Nurses who already have the Advance Practice Nurse credential can pursue.
All the Nurse Practitioner master’s programs’ tuition fees are $1,838 per credit.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care (AGCC) and Pediatric Primary Care.
The DNP AGCC coursework focuses on Nursing informatics, Nursing theory, research, statistics, and ethics.
This doctoral program equips Nurse Practitioners with the skills to care for older patients who are critically ill.
The Paediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program is the perfect choice for NPs seeking to advance their general NP Certification.
Each of these programs costs $1,738 per credit.
Aspiring NPs can also pursue their MSN education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The university offers comprehensive NP Programs taught in a traditional classroom.
It has both Acute Care and Primary Care Adult-Gerontology NP specializations.
One can also pursue a Family Nurse Practitioner Program or Psychiatric Mental Health NP Course.
The in-person NP classes are accompanied by live stream videos, stimulated experience, and clinical training.
The programs are offered in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
So, students take clinical practice at the medical center throughout their coursework.
For the cost, each credit for the Nurse Practitioner Programs costs $1,716.
The University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania allows aspiring NPs to pursue the Psychiatric Mental Health NP Program or Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Program.
The PMHNP Course provides a holistic approach to caring for patients with mental health issues.
The coursework combines neuroscience with psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.
What’s more, the University of Pennsylvania has a comprehensive clinical practicum program that ensures students work with a wide range of the psychiatric population.
Students rotate in different psychiatric centers throughout their study to meet the clinical hours’ requirements.
The AGPCNP Program is a solid full-time 15 months program that starts in May and ends in August the following year.
The coursework constitutes clinical preceptorships focusing on health maintenance, acute and chronic health problems management, and physical health assessment and pathophysiology.
This Graduate Nurse Practitioner Program also has classroom case studies.
Pursuing the courses full-time will cost $42,248 for each program.
Part-time classes are $1,931 per credit.
Emory University offers two master’s Nurse Practitioner Programs, the FNP and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs.
The AGACNP has three specialty areas; critical care, hospital medicine, and trauma surgery.
The program majorly focuses on complex chronically and acutely ill patients.
The Family Nurse Practitioner course is centered around community-based primary care.
Nursing students learn how to care for patients with different needs across the lifespan.
The course comprises classroom and clinical experience working with populations in rural areas.
Emory University places Nurse Practitioner students in over 40 community-based health care and private practices to give them exposure and experience in a wide range of healthcare settings.
The master’s Nurse Practitioner Program with Emory University costs $1,963 per credit.
Columbia University is part of Nurse Practitioner colleges with the best NP Programs.
The college offers both full-time and part-time study options.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs available includes FNP, AGPCNP, and PNP.
These courses cost $87,242 on a full-time basis and $17,000 for part-time classes.
The Family Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs require two years of coursework and a clinical practicum.
The NP classes involve lectures, simulations, and clinical, culminating in a final intensive practicum.
Usually, Columbia University places Nursing students in hospitals, schools, home care, and outpatient clinics.
Nurses interested in becoming Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners can pursue the AGPCNP Course.
The AGPCNP Program focuses on palliative care and end-of-life care.
The coursework integrates Primary Care and Mental Health.
The program is offered through didactic classroom instructions and Advanced Clinical Practice in different health care settings.
Learners also attend experiential clinical seminars.
What to Consider When Choosing a Nurse Practitioner School
When searching for a School of Nursing, it’s important that you do your due diligence.
There are several factors that you should look into before enrolling in any Nursing or Nurse Practitioner Program.
Let’s review the top six of these factors:
Accreditation is crucial when searching for the right NP School.
Generally, there are two accreditation agencies, The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
And so, when settling for an NP Program, whether online or in-person, one must confirm with the institution or their state licensure board if the university’s NP Course is accredited.
These accreditation commissions set standards that Nursing Schools must comply with to provide high-quality education.
According to ACEN, some of the standards that master’s NP Programs must meet include having an administration capacity to operate the Nursing Practitioner Program, sufficient resources to support the program, and a curriculum that promotes safe practice in a health care environment.
Taking an accredited program is important not only for employment but also for further education.
In case you want to pursue a certification in the future, most awarding agencies will require an accredited Nurse Practitioner Degree.
Every institution of learning has educational requirements that its candidates must meet.
So, before you enroll in any course, check to confirm whether you qualify for the program.
Most Nurse Practitioner Programs will require their candidates to have bachelor’s degree certification, a valid RN license, and documented clinical experience.
There might be more enrollment requirements depending on the institution.
If you have a baccalaureate degree and want to jump straight into an MSN Program without an RN license, there are programs that have this arrangement.
Master’s NP Programs cover a wide range of courses.
The common courses in these programs include:
- Advanced Health Assessment
- Primary Care of the Childbearing and Child-rearing family
- Primary Care of the Aged and Maturing Family
- Advanced Psychopharmacology
- Clinical Concentration Course
Apart from the coursework, one must complete clinical practicum hours to have hands-on experience.
The NP curriculum prepares Nurse Practitioners for the certification exams offered by certifying agencies such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
When still on the program curriculum, it’s important to check the program structure.
Online programs may be synchronous or asynchronous.
Synchronous courses require students to attend the online sessions at a specific time.
On the other hand, Asynchronous is where students can access the coursework at any time.
Each has its benefit.
With a synchronous course, learners can interact with fellow learners and instructors in real-time.
Asynchronous courses are flexible.
So, when considering an online NP master’s program, consider the structure that works for you.
Clinical Hour Experience
All Nursing programs at all levels of learning have specific clinical hours required, even when the course is online.
And so, all national accredited NP Programs must have clinical practicums.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the minimum clinical hours’ of experience for NP Programs is 500.
But depending on the specialization, the hours may be more.
CCNE requires all Nursing degree programs and post-graduate APRN Programs to have clinical hours that match the degree program and the specialization.
Hence, even when enrolled in the best online NP Program, ensure part of the curriculum has clinical experience.
Further, inquire from the admission whether you can complete the clinical hours in your home state or you’ll have to travel to the university.
Additionally, ask if the university offers placement assistance.
Another important point is that advanced education says DNP requires documented clinical practicum.
Another critical factor to look into is the cost of the Nurse Practitioner Program.
For most universities, the tuition fee for in-person and online classes is fairly the same.
The real difference comes in the housing and transportation costs associated with in-person classes.
Overall, online programs are much cheaper, given that one saves on the extra expenses.
Public universities are more affordable compared to private.
And more often than not, public universities offer financial aid.
They may also have in-state tuition fees and out-of-state fees.
Student support is at the core of completing an online Nurse Practitioner Program successfully.
It’s best to enroll in MSN or DNP Programs that offer placement assistance for the clinical practicum requirements.
Even more important is a responsive administration.
Online education becomes easier if one can access the professors or reach out to the administration in case of any inquiries.
Things like faculty mentorship, guidance, and personal development opportunities for graduate students will also boost your learning.
Types of MSN Specialization Programs
We’ve come a long way.
But you don’t want to miss this next part.
Stay with us as we wrap up NP Programs with the different MSN specializations Nursing students can choose from.
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program
FNPs care for patients across the lifespan, from infants to seniors.
Family Nurse Practitioner Programs equip aspiring Nurse Practitioners with the skills to provide advanced care for the whole family.
Some of the skills the FNP Curriculum covers include disease prevention and management, how to diagnose and manage primary and acute health problems, and how to provide health and wellness education and counseling.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Program
Registered Nurses interested in becoming PMHNP may pursue graduate education in Psychiatric Mental Health.
PMHNP cares for patients with mental health issues, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia.
PMHNP Programs enlighten Nurses on the types of psychiatric mental health issues, psychiatric mental healthcare, pharmacology, pathophysiology, counseling and psychotherapy, and organization systems and behavior.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Program
WHNP are Nurses who specialize in caring for women.
Areas of focus for this NP Curriculum may include prenatal and postpartum care, reproductive health care, menopause, and general wellness.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Programs equip learners with the expertise to treat illnesses unique to women.
They also learn about preventative measures.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Program
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners focus on the primary care of children.
Their coursework majorly revolves around pediatric health assessment, nutritional and pharmacological management, child and adolescent development theories, and pediatric social-cultural issues.
The PNP Program curriculum should be comprehensive enough to prepare learners for the certification exam by Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP and AG-PCNP) Program
AGNP specializes in diagnosing and treating adult patients.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Programs have two specialties Acute Care and Primary Care.
The core courses will vary depending on one’s area of specialization.
However, AGNP Programs cover evidence-based practice, pathophysiology and pharmacology, and advanced practice care.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program
NNPs provide short-term and long-term care for newborns born sick or premature.
They may also have a genetic disorder or other complications.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs may cover embryology, neonatal physiology, and family dynamics.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Program
As the title suggests, these are NPs that provide care for acutely ill patients.
ACNP Programs are dedicated towards acute care management, acute care procedures and diagnosis, clinical residencies, and acute care clinical skills.
Many institutions offer Nurse Practitioner MSN Programs.
The key to finding the right program is to check the institutions’ accreditation, tuition fee, program curriculum, and the level of student support.
With the right Nurse Practitioner Program, you can become an NP in 2-3 years.
Depending on your NP degree program, you can choose a further specialization or delve into a health care setting and provide care for patients.
This is a highly fulfilling career.