Nurse practitioners combine nursing and healthcare skills to serve as a patient's or family's primary or specialty care provider. Many nurse practitioners work in a specialty such as women's health, pediatrics and family practice. Acute care, adult practice and geriatrics are also popular specialties. Nurse practitioners can also work in less popular, but important specialties, like neonatology and mental health.
Applicants to nurse practitioner master's programs must have a bachelor's degree, and nearly all nurse practitioner candidates have nursing degrees and those who don't must have nursing experience. Students should also be prepared to submit a resume, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and in some cases proof that the candidate is a registered nurse. Many times, an interview will also be conducted.
Master's Degree for Nurse Practitioners
Because nurse practitioners often take leadership roles, programs emphasize leadership and organizational problem solving. Students also learn to work with physicians to treat common health problems, manage chronic illnesses and administer diagnostic tests. Programs are many times available online or on a part-time basis because most students are already registered nurses and can last between one and three years. Classes in nurse practitioner master's degree programs combine classroom coursework and clinical hours. Here are some classes you might find in these programs:
- Medical technology
- Family practice
- Research methods
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Like most medical professions, job opportunities for nurses, including nurse practitioners, are expected to grow faster than the national average, with an expected growth rate of 31% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Nurse practitioners made an median annual salary of 98,190 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
Nurse practitioners who earn a Master of Science will be prepared for licensure. Previous nursing experience or a bachelor's in RN is required in order to get accepted into this program.