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what are the best steps to become a nurse practitioner

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Nancy’s Answer

First you need to become a Registered Nurse with a BSN, that's a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a four-year degree. It is possible to become a RN with an Associates Degree, an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), which is a two-year degree. But, you will still need the BSN in order to climb to the next level. You will then take a licensing exam so you can work as a Registered Nurse. Then you need to get a Master's Degree in Nursing, as a Nurse Practitioner. You can specialize in adults, children, or families, with further specialization in acute or chronic care. You could also study Psychiatric Nursing or Anesthesia. This will take approximately two years. Then you take another licensing exam so you can practice as an Advance Practice Registered Nurse.

Getting experience is important. I started as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) after a one-month long class at my local Red Cross. I took my state exam, and got a job! Then I went to school to be a Licensed Practical Nurse, took my state exam, and got a better job! After that I went to a local Community College for my ASN, took my state exam, and worked as a RN! I then went on to earn my BSN, no licensing exam required! I then applied to a Master's Degree program. The basic experience I gained as a CNA and LPN was invaluable and I highly recommend that you work as a CNA before/while you are studying for your RN.

I should preface all of this by saying you need to have excellent grades. Getting into nursing school is VERY competitive. However, if your grades are not so great you can go the LPN route first which, for me, was the best in terms of getting experience.

Nursing is a great career. You will ALWAYS be able to get a job, and everyday is an adventure!

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Ann’s Answer

I agree with everything Nancy said. I was a nursing assistant (before you had to be licensed) while I went to school for my BSN. I worked on a med-surg floor for 5 years. Stayed home raising kids for a few years and went back to school for my Master’s in Nursing in ambulatory care/Family Nurse Practitioner. I’ve been a FNP for over 25 years. I would definitely recommend working on a medical floor or ICU for a few years for experience before going to school to become a nurse practitioner. The experience will be invaluable and will be very helpful-not only in school but also when you start practicing.

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Rachel’s Answer

I agree with all of the comments above, especially the mention of starting as a CNA prior to becoming an nurse, and then an NP. I would also suggest shadowing NP's in fields that you think that you may be interested in. NP's in different fields of medicine perform vastly different jobs. NP's that work with surgeons often go to the operating room, assist with cases, and also see patients in clinic. NP's in a primary care office may work 100% outpatient and essentially run their own clinic.

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Heather’s Answer

For this question you have to remember that there are multiple routes to becoming a RN. I got my BS in Criminology while I finished up Nursing pre-requirements. I got my ASN and since I refuse to get my BSN since I already have one BS got my RN-to MSN informatics and will apply this summer to NP program. There are different programs out there and there are different paths that can be taken; it all based on life decisions. I was never a CNA, LVN, I was a sexual assault advocate throughout nursing school.

This being said you need experience as a RN to understand the field and get your skills and insight to be an effective NP. My experience is in Trauma Medical-surgical, psych, and informatics sprinkled in there. Became an RN and find your nursing path and get your experience.

Heather recommends the following next steps:

Nursing programs requirements
Hospital volunteer opportunity

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Richard’s Answer

4 year nursing degree
Gain some professional experience as a nurse
Apply to and enter a nurse practitioner school which will be a combination of classroom lectures and clinical work.