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Adult Nursing Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Registered nurses with a nursing bachelor's degree enroll in a master's degree program in nursing with an adult nurse practitioner specialization. Nurses with a nursing master's degree enroll in an adult nurse practitioner certificate program.

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Essential Information

Master's programs prepare nurses for state licensing as adult nurse practitioners (ANP), as well as for professional certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Graduates who attain passing scores on the organization's examination become designated adult nurse practitioners. Through the study of disease prevention and wellness promotion, nurse practitioner certificate programs are designed to prepare nurses take on more advanced clinical duties. Curricula consist of a clinical practicum, seminars, a residency or a research component.

Admittance for master's programs require a bachelor's degree and satisfactory scores on the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). Other requirements include letters of recommendation, a personal statement essay, and an RN license or eligibility status, as well as prerequisite coursework in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, nutrition, and developmental psychology. Admittance for certificate programs require a master's degree in nursing and an RN license. Other requirements include one year of nursing experience, a personal statement essay, and resume. Applicants are also required to submit to a criminal background check before admission into the clinical phase of the program.


Master of Science in Nursing - Adult Nurse Practitioner

An adult nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who is educated at the graduate level and has training in a specialty area such as psychiatric and mental health nursing, occupational health, gerontology, and cardiovascular disease prevention. The curriculum is designed to prepare registered nurses (RNs) to take on greater clinical responsibilities, including diagnosing and treating illness and disease, as well as prescribing medications.

Course offerings include studies in physical assessment, chronic illness and disease, health promotion, disease prevention, and clinical pharmacology. ANP students conduct academic research, attend seminars, and complete a primary care residency. Coursework includes studies in nursing theories and practices, quantitative research, development, and primary care. Topics covered include:

  • Drug classifications
  • Psychological assessment
  • Nursing ethics
  • Healthcare systems
  • Risk reduction

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Adult Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate

Designed for master's degree-holding RNs wanting to become licensed adult nurse practitioners, the program provides advanced studies in nursing and prepares nurses to take state licensing and national certification ANP examinations. The curriculum includes coursework in diagnostic techniques, nursing theories, and treatment. A pharmacology course explores drug classifications, drug interactions and drug allergies, and a course in primary care examines health promotion, and disease prevention. Other topics include gender specific health issues, community health, and ethical obligations. Students complete a clinical practicum towards the end of the program, potentially in a hospital, clinic, ambulatory care center, or physician's office.

The curriculum prepares ANP students to manage a broad range of clinical responsibilities including diagnosing, treating and preventing illness, as well as promoting the health of adult patients through intervention and education. Coursework topics include:

  • Patient diversity
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health policies
  • Acute care
  • Differential diagnosis

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs held 2,751,000 jobs in the U.S. in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS has also reported that jobs in this profession would grow by 16% from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS reported the average annual salary for nurse practitioners was $101,260.

Continuing Education

Graduates are eligible to sit for the Adult Nurse Practitioner Certification (ANPC) exam, offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Graduates can also sit for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners' ANPC exam. Both organizations require ANPs to compete continuing education credits every five years to maintain certification. Graduates should refer to their state nursing boards for information on ANP licensure.

Graduates are eligible to sit for state licensing, as well as American Nurses Credentialing Center and American Academy of Nurse Practitioners certification exams. Graduates who are interested in a career in research or teaching at the college level can enroll in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Master's degree and certificate programs both prepare registered nurses to become state-licensed nurse practitioners. Coursework covers topics in theories and practices, research, development, and primary care.

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