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What do I need to do to become a Nurse Practitioner?

I’m in high school right now and I want to be a Nurse Practitioner. But I don’t know what steps I have to take to become one. Like do I go to college then nursing school? and How long does it take to be a Nurse Practitioner? someone please help and explain.😔 #nurse-practitioner #nurse #nursing

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Suzanne’s Answer

Hi Ashley,
I'm so excited you know your career path! You can start working towards your goal while in highschool. Make sure you complete all your college prerequisite classes including foreign language (Spanish always good). Start by looking now at what classes and GPA requirements will be needed to apply to the RN program of your dreams.
Find local volunteer opportunities with local hospitals or Red Cross in order to become comfortable with the healthcare culture.
Next, work with your school counselor to identify RN programs that suit your needs. Apply to several programs making sure they offer a high state board pass rate and financial aid.
You will need to apply good study skills once in college. Make sure you take a state board test prep class.
Once you have earned your RN you can start working (I recommend working at least one year in an acute care hospital) while applying for your NP program. Keep on mind you will be working towards a master's degree. You most likely will to be able to work only part time during the NP program. Some people do work full time though!
You will need to decide a specialty path for your NP, but can determine this at a future date. No rush on this decision.

I've included informational links below:



I hope this helps Stay the course. We need you.


Suzanne recommends the following next steps:

Choose your entry method
Meet nursing prerequisites
Choose your college
Study study study!!
Pass the state board

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David’s Answer

In order to become an Nurse Practitioner, you have to go to school and take the course work for becoming a nurse and earn your credentials as a registered nurse (RN), or go to college and earn a Bachelor degree in Nursing, do some volunteering, nurse practice, internship to gain experience and graduate with the degree, afterward obtain State License and Certification and furthermore will be specializing in the area of practice you want.

1. Become a Registered Nurse. The first step to a career as a nurse practitioner is earning your credentials as a registered nurse (RN).
2. Earn a Bachelor's Degree.
3. Gain Experience.
4. Earn a Graduate Degree.
5. Obtain State License and Certification.
6. Pursue Further Specialization

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Christina’s Answer

Many friends of mine are NP and they have all completed there studies to become an RN then continue their education. This path is great if you don't want to be a 6 year student or if financially that isn't possible for you. Complete a bachelors degree in nursing (BSN), get registered to practice (RN license), work at a great paying job while continuing to further your education. While working as a RN pursue specializations in something such as family care, mental heath, ect. Begin to work on your masters or doctoral degree in nursing, once complete you will obtain a certification from a specialty nursing board (stay within your scope of desired work family care, pediatrics, ect). You should now be good to get your NP licence.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck

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Judy’s Answer

I will give you both my personal experience and my recommendations. If your parents are able to help with funding your education I would recommend first starting a 4 year BSN program. Be aware that even if you make good grades which must include prerequisites to nursing that the nursing program is not obligated to accept you (nursing is usually your junior and senior years). I had a BS degree in Dental Hygiene at the time I decided to go to nursing school (40 yrs old) and because my junior and senior years had been at LSU Dental School and courses there had different numbers for nutrition, anatomy and physiology etc. than regular college, I had to take 17 hrs to meet the requirement for nursing school. Because of where I lived at the time, I took those hours at a junior college and applied for 2 different nursing programs. Little did I know, although I had a 3.5 in my previous degree, my ACT test that I had taken 20 years earlier carried a lot of weight and I was put on a waiting list at both institutions (one was an associate RN degree and the other BSN). Later I was told at the 4 yr. university that my ACT results (24 and this was back when there were no prep courses and you just took it one time with no build up!) should not have been counted since the completion of my degree was much more predictable for success than a high school ACT result. Either way, I got in a week before school started at the Univ. of Southern MS. I went on to make excellent grades and graduated. I then worked the next 10 years as an oncology nurse prior to proceeding to a graduate degree. I mention this since most graduate nursing programs require 2 yrs of nursing experience before they accept you. Many programs will let you take "non-clinical" courses such as nursing theory or research prior to completion of those 2 years. I recommend that you take the minimum of 2 years to get a feel for exactly what you want to do with a graduate degree. I was strongly recruited at least 6 months prior to graduated from Univ. of South AL which was an online degree with hundreds of required clinical hours which I was able to perform in my own city of residence with approved preceptors. I received an Acute Care NP preparation since I knew how sick cancer patients get. That is not even available now without it being paired with Gerontology or other specialty. I have loved the way my career has unfolded. I was able to work full time while in graduate school with few deviations. My hospital paid for about half of my tuition.

Now I am going to give the following recommendation. If your parents are unable to pay for the majority of your education or you will need full loans for your education, I recommend pursuing an associate degree RN program first. The difference between your pay as a BSN vs. AD RN is negligible. You can usually work while you later go back to get the rest of the BSN part of your education and there are many online programs. Your hospital will usually help you with tuition. Meanwhile you can be making $60,000 a year and pay for that stage of your education. At this point you may have a good idea of what you would like to specialize in or if you prefer to pursue a Primary Care or Family NP program. Keep in mind, your graduate degree makes you eligible to take the national certification test which then makes you NP or other advanced practice nurse-there are a plethora of options depending on what you want to do. This way you can finish graduate school without having thousands of dollars worth of loans.

I would like to caution you that many of my NP friends have been worked hard with the number of patients they are expected to see and responsibilities with unfair monetary and other compensations. I loved my cancer patients and put up with some negative issues that did gradually get worse. I was seeing 85-100 cancer patients a week and would go 3 yrs without a raise a few times. When the hospital bought the practice, I went from several thousand dollars for a Christmas bonus to a $100 gift card. I think I brought in about $500,000 a year to the practice but none of that was ever shared with me. When I was starting to get burned out, I got the opportunity to become an NP educator with a big biotech company and my life became easier with greater compensation. That is where I am now at the age of 67. My mom (also an RN-94 rs old- as is my daughter and son) worked until she was 74 and I would like to work at least 3 more years at a position that has a good work/life balance. I would also like you to realize that you may prefer medical school or to at least look at the differences between a PA vs. NP. I am prejudiced toward becoming an NP but I think you should be aware of the differences.

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me for any additional questions. Judy Owens, ACNP, AOCNP