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Nurse practitioners are special nurses who are authorized to diagnose illnesses and treat patients. They are licensed to provide medical care to people, similar to the care given by a physician. Anyone who wishes to receive nurse practitioner training must first earn a nursing degree and then become a registered nurse. After several years of nursing experience and enrolling in an advanced training program, the registered nurse earns a master's degree in nursing. This qualifies the nurse to become licensed as a nurse practitioner.
Similar to physicians, a person who receives nurse practitioner training can specialize in several areas. Pediatrics, nurse-midwifery, geriatrics, neonatology, and family and adult health are just a few of the categories in which a nurse practitioner can choose. Nurse practitioner training prepares nurses to perform physical exams on patients. When a person becomes a nurse practitioner, he or she can also order lab tests, prescribe medication, and order physical and occupational therapy.
Before beginning nurse practitioner training, a nurse should have several years of experience working as a registered nurse. This will allow the nurse to determine which specialties he or she would like to pursue. It also provides the nurse with valuable hands-on experience in the medical field. Another excellent way nurses can determine if advanced nursing is right for them is to shadow a practicing nurse practitioner. This permits the aspiring nurse practitioner to see a typical workday.
Those who receive nurse practitioner training can expect to work in a variety of settings. They may work in health care clinics, doctor's offices, home health care agencies, hospitals, schools, or nursing homes. A nurse practitioner may work unconventional hours, working early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. If the nurse practitioner works in a hospital, he or she may even be on call.
Nurse practitioners must continue to stay abreast of new developments in the medical field. They must read medical journals and attend conferences in order to do so. Since they work with a variety of patients, they may find themselves dealing with stressful situations. Nurse practitioners must make decisions that affect the health and well-being of patients, so they must be able to make wise decisions that benefit their patients.
Students who wish to receive nurse practitioner training have the opportunity to become well-respected medical professionals. By earning licensure as registered nurses, they can lay the foundation for a more advanced nursing career. This is achieved by earning a master's degree. Becoming an advanced nurse allows the medical professional to diagnose illness, treat patients, and prescribe medication for their specific needs.
@EdRick - That's interesting! I had no idea that nurse practitioner training programs might begin to require doctoral degrees. It's kind of funny to think of someone being a doctor of nursing, isn't it?
I wonder what problem they're trying to solve. I've often seen nurse practitioners of various specialties, for myself or my children, not to mention midwives and nurse anesthetists (now *that's* where the big money is in nursing - they often make more than pediatricians, for instance). They all seemed professional and well-qualified. Is there concern that nurse practitioners are not sufficiently well-educated?
I have a sister who is just starting nurse midwife training. The nice thing about a nursing career is that it builds on itself. To be a doctor, you have to spend years and years training. You can become a registered nurse in as little as two years. Then, you can start your career - which is well-paid from the beginning - while you continue your education with a bachelor's and master's.
My sister is trying to finish her training soon while she still only needs a master's. There has been talk that soon, many or even all states may actually require advance practice nurses (like midwives and other nurse practitioners) to have doctoral degrees! It's called a doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP).
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