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nurse practitioner The decision to become a nurse practitioner (NP) is an important one, and with it comes a host of questions: what type of degree should you obtain? What specialty or area of medicine are you interested in? With a variety of different program types and concentration options, those considering advancing their education and career by becoming an NP have a lot of decisions to make. Below, we break down the nurse practitioner essentials to help you reach your full potential as a future NP.

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Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements

A nurse practitioner is considered an advanced practice nursing role. Therefore, you must hold either a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Most NP jobs require an MSN, but those looking to advance to the highest levels of nursing practice may opt for a DNP. There are accelerated bridge programs available for both ADN and BSN-educated RNs to pursue post-graduate nursing degrees, as well as Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice (MENP) programs for those who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

Credentialing Process for Nurse Practitioners

After completing the degree program, NPs will want to get certified in their specialty. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a wide variety of nurse practitioner certifications. Not only do they need to be licensed in the state in which they practice, but they must also undergo credentialing as well.

The credentialing process is rather complex. It involves verifying education, licensure, and certifications. It’s important that organizations move through the credentialing process to ensure the nurse practitioner is qualified to provide care. It also allows the organization to bill insurance companies and government agencies (such as Medicare). Credentialing is required for nurse practitioners to be reimbursed for healthcare service.

How Long to Get Credentialed?

Nurse practitioners can expect about one or two months for credentialing to be completed. It helps to have certain things ready to go to prevent delays. Keeping documents in order such as a diploma, NP license, DEA certification, and specialty certification will help the process. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of transcripts from school in case they are needed; having to contact the school and wait for transcripts to be transferred adds unnecessary time to the credentialing process.

Keeping track of employment history along with contact numbers to previous employers is also beneficial. Some credentialing companies also ask for malpractice insurance carriers. In some cases, references may also be required, so it’s a good idea to keep at least three handy for the credentialing process.

While credentialing can be a lengthy process, the nurse practitioner can help keep it on track by ensuring all the necessary documents are in order.

Nurse Practitioner FAQs

One career change that we see in the world of nursing is non-nurses looking to become advanced-practice registered nurses. While it may seem difficult, if not impossible, for a non-nurse to become a nurse practitioner, there are options out there for students – including online pathways.

The most popular route for non-nurses to enter an online Nurse Practitioner program is through a Master’s Entry to Nursing Program (MENP). Admission to this type of program typically requires that the non-nurse holds a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in any non-nursing discipline. Beyond this, prospective students usually need to provide:

  • Resume/CV
  • Written statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Complete any pre-requisite courses related to nursing, if required. Courses may include:
    • Anatomy/physiology
    • Nutrition
    • Statistics
    • Psychology

Upon completion of core coursework, the student may begin their specialty track. Schools offer different tracks for NPs, including Adult-Gerontology, Pediatric, and more.

It’s important to recognize that while an NP program may advertise an “online” curriculum, nurse practitioner students must complete a specific number of supervised clinical hours to graduate. This is usually done on their own time. Additionally, some programs prepare students to earn an RN along the way.


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