Nurse practitioners are an integral part of the healthcare system in many countries and provide primary care to patients in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices. These professionals know disease processes, treatments, and diagnostic skills such as laboratory analysis. Many nurse practitioner programs offer online courses that allow students to study at home while still receiving quality instruction from qualified instructors.
Article Navigation: What is an Online Nurse Practitioner Program? | Why Pursue a Career as a Nurse Practitioner | What Careers Can You Pursue with a Master’s in Nurse Practitioner? | What You Need Before Pursuing a Career as a Nurse Practitioner | Top 10 Online Nurse Practitioner Programs | How to Choose an Online Nurse Practitioner Program | FAQs | Conclusion
What is an Online Nurse Practitioner Program?
An online nurse practitioner program is a degree-granting program that allows students to complete their coursework and clinical requirements online. This program can be incredibly convenient for working nurses who want to continue their education without leaving their jobs. Online nurse practitioner programs are offered at all levels, from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees. Students in an online NP program can specialize in various areas, such as family care, adult health, or pediatric nursing.
The curricula for online NP programs vary depending on the school and the specialization chosen by the student. However, most programs cover Advanced Health Assessment, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, and Nursing Theory. In addition, students must complete a certain number of clinical hours to graduate.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredit many online nurse practitioner programs. Accreditation means that they have met rigorous standards set by these organizations and are therefore considered high quality.
Students interested in becoming nurse practitioners should consider enrolling in an online NP program. These programs offer flexibility and convenience and prepare students for a successful career as nurse practitioners.
Why Pursue a Career as a Nurse Practitioner?
There are plenty of reasons you may want to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner.
First, you will be uniquely serving patients. As an NP, you will handle more responsibilities than nurses because your work entails diagnosing and treating illnesses and prescribing medications where necessary.
Secondly, you may want to become an NP because of the increasing demand. According to BLS projections, there will be a projected 31% growth between 2016 and 2026! That’s much faster than average when compared with other occupations across different industries. Also, NPs have an annual median pay of $111K.
What Careers Can You Pursue with a Master’s in Nurse Practitioner?
Salary: An average of $162,282 per year
Physician associates are licensed medical practitioners who, like full-time physicians, provide similar services in examining, diagnosing, managing, and caring for patients. A clinician or general practitioner will oversee you throughout your career. You’ll be a medical team member and frequently function as part of a medical team in general practitioner (GP) offices or hospitals. This position is relatively new, and it is increasing and evolving. It should not be confused with the physician’s assistant job.
Physician assistants (PA) are independent professionals who function autonomously when provided with the appropriate assistance. You must, however, stay inside your scope of practice and know when to contact physicians and other healthcare experts.
Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $117,030 per year
Cardiac nurse practitioners are also known as cardiology NPs or cardiovascular nurse practitioners. Advanced practice nurses specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with heart disease, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, and valvular conditions.
Cardiac Nurse Practitioners work under the supervision of a cardiologist. Specifically, to provide the full spectrum of care for cardiac patients from prevention through recovery.
Their responsibilities include:
- Electrocardiograms or stress tests
- Evaluating patient medical histories
- Performing physical assessments
- Prescribing medications
- Ordering laboratory tests
- Counseling on lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation or diet change;
- recommending surgical procedures
- Collaborating with other health professionals on a patient’s plan of care
Psychiatric-Mental Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $115,590 per year
A psychiatric nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced knowledge and training in mental health. They work with patients to treat complex mental illnesses, such as mood disorders, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders.
Other responsibilities include:
- Prescribing medications and ordering tests.
- Providing therapy, counseling, or other psychotherapy services to patients.
- Diagnosing mental health disorders in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
- Working with medical professionals as part of a treatment team to develop personalized care plans for patients.
Psychiatric NPs must pass the national exam to receive this certification before practicing independently. They must take continuing education courses every two years to maintain their credentials.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $104,180 per year
Acute care nurse practitioners are responsible for caring for patients who require immediate medical attention, such as those with severe injuries or life-threatening conditions. They work in emergency rooms and intensive care units. Their responsibilities include:
- Collecting patient histories, conducting physical examinations, and developing treatment plans.
- Examine people who are not sufficiently prepared for a specific kind of activity.
- Recording histories of patient encounters
- Diagnose and treat patients
- Prescribe medication and therapy treatments (depending on practice authority)
- Stabilize patients in critical conditions
- Collaborate with healthcare teams
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $90,130 per year
The primary responsibility of a gerontological nurse practitioner is to care for patients who are elderly and at risk of developing chronic diseases or those who have been diagnosed with the disease. This position requires an in-depth understanding of the unique health needs presented by older individuals. Gerontological NPs work across all healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, long-term care facilities, and rehabilitation centers. They can also be self-employed as independent practitioners providing primary care services to older adults.
Their responsibilities include:
- Patient assessments
- Creating personalized treatment plans for each patient’s specific needs
- Treating illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Providing education on healthy lifestyle choices like dieting and exercise
- Counseling on end-of-life issues
- Collaborating with other medical professionals to provide comprehensive care for the elderly
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $95,000 per year
A women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is a registered nurse who specializes in providing primary care to female patients across their lifespans. They work with various healthcare facilities, including hospitals and clinics. Their responsibilities include:
- Providing preventative care, such as regular checkups and screenings for sexually transmitted illnesses
- Monitoring pregnancies
- Delivering babies
- Prescribing birth control methods
- Treating ailments specific to females such as breast cancer and menopause symptoms.
In addition, WHNPs must also have additional training from an accredited program before they can legally practice independently. To receive certification in this specialty area of nursing practice requires WHNPs to take the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam offered by the National Certification Corporation.
Dermatology Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $94,200 per year
A dermatology nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who specializes in diagnosing and treating skin conditions.
Their responsibilities include:
- Diagnose, treat, and manage diseases of the skin such as acne, psoriasis, warts, eczema, rashes
- Monitor cosmetic treatments such as laser hair removal or BOTOX injections
- Perform minor surgeries to remove cysts or growths from the skin’s surface.
- Conduct a thorough medical history.
- Review prescribed medication
- Interpret lab reports and pathologic reports.
They must also pass a certification exam provided by the National Certification Board for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners & Nurses before legally practicing independently.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $91,000 per year
A pediatric nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who specializes in providing primary care to children from birth through adolescence.
They work with various healthcare facilities, including hospitals and clinics. Their responsibilities include:
- Providing well-child checkups
- Administering vaccines and immunizations
- Diagnosing and treating common illnesses such as the flu or strep throat
- Managing chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes
- Prescribing medications
- Ordering and interpreting lab tests
- Counseling parents on everything from nutrition to discipline strategies
In addition, most PNPs must complete an accredited graduate program in nursing before practicing independently. Certification is also required and can be obtained by taking the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam offered by the National Certification Corporation.
Hospice Nurse Practitioner
Salary: An average of $94,000 per year
A hospice nurse practitioner is a registered nurse specializing in providing care to patients with life-limiting illnesses.
Their responsibilities include:
- Assessing the patient’s condition and developing a treatment plan
- Providing pain relief and symptom management
- Coordinating care with other members of the healthcare team, including doctors, social workers, and chaplains
- Counseling patients and their families on end-of-life issues
In addition, most hospice PNPs must complete an accredited graduate program in nursing before practicing independently. Certification is also required and can be obtained by taking the Hospice Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam offered by the National Certification Corporation.
What You Need Before Pursuing a Career as a Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) come from all walks of life and represent various backgrounds, races, ethnicities, genders, and life experiences. NPs may be found in a variety of health care settings from private NP-owned enterprises to large multistate healthcare systems.
As mentioned above, becoming a nurse practitioner requires you to follow crucial steps. However, there are also skills that you would need to help throughout your career as an NP.Some of the skills you would need to become a nurse practitioner include:
- Communication skills – Nurses and nurse practitioners must communicate effectively with patients, families, physicians, other nurses, and health care team members.
- Critical thinking skills – Nurses must use necessary thinking skills to assess patient data and make sound clinical judgments.
- Patient assessment skills – Nurses and nurse practitioners must perform comprehensive physical assessments on patients.
- Clinical decision-making skills – Nurse practitioners must make informed decisions about patient care based on evidence-based practice guidelines.
- Problem-solving skills – Nurses must identify and solve problems related to patient care.
Surgical technologist certification is not currently required for nurse practitioners. However, many employers prefer or need it. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting is one of the three national certifying organizations in this field.
Top 10 Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
Becoming a nurse practitioner requires you to undergo proper education to help you specialize in whatever career path you want to take. Here are some of the best online nurse practitioner programs to consider out there.
Master of Science in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner (RN-MSN) – South College
The RN-MSN program is a blended degree that combines online/hybrid classes with clinical practicum experiences for working adult students. From critical thinking and analytical abilities to interpersonal communication and more, students will improve their healthcare professional skills. Students may tailor their nursing diploma program to help them achieve their professional goals. Faculty bring real-world expertise to the virtual classroom, preparing students for careers as FNP’s, primary care nurse practitioners, or nurse practitioners.
Make the most of working and learning simultaneously with the flexible benefits offered by South College. This program will take you one step closer to nursing leadership with an online degree.
Master of Science – DNP Path/Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner – Purdue University Global
The Master of Science in Nursing – DNP Path/Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner at Purdue University Global is an online program. The curriculum includes courses in health assessment, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and a practicum component. Students can specialize in adult-gerontology primary care or acute care. Graduates can take the national certification exam from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
Master of Science in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner – Southern New Hampshire University
You can explore Southern New Hampshire University’s online FNP program through the online MSN degree. This program meets the standards of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. With this degree, you will learn about innovative subjects like:
- Reasoning and evaluation in clinical settings
- Care of women and infants
Take part in clinical experience hours and practicum encounters under the supervision of expert primary care providers. Develop your job-ready abilities in assessment, analysis, research, effective communication, decision-making, and other critical professional competencies.
Master-level nurse practitioner programs prepare nurses for primary care professions in private offices, urgent care clinics, public health departments, telehealth environments, and more.
Master of Science – DNP/Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Purdue University Global
The Master of Science – DNP/Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner offered by Purdue University Global is a highly sought-after program. It prepares students to provide care for people with mental health disorders in various settings. The curriculum gives students the skills and knowledge they need to diagnose, treat, and manage psychiatric illnesses.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits this program, and it’s ranked as one of the best online programs in the country. Graduates are prepared to take on psychiatric nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse educator roles.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Certificate – Purdue University Global
The Purdue University Global online Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Certificate program prepares students for a career as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and sits for the national certification examination. This certificate is also available in combination with an MSN or DNP program. It offers current registered nurses the opportunity to earn their degrees while preparing to become nurse practitioners. The curriculum covers therapeutic communication, psychopharmacology, family systems theory, and developmental psychology.
Students can complete this 42-credit hour program within 18 months of full-time study or two years of part-time study, including all general education requirements. In addition to completing core coursework, participants must also meet clinical practice requirements through practicum experiences at local agencies. Students can transfer in up to 30 credit hours of relevant graduate-level coursework.
Master of Science in Nursing/Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner – Thomas Jefferson University
Nurses specializing in pediatric healthcare may complete this MSN / Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program entirely online. The curriculum teaches students to administer direct care of infants through teenagers in various settings. Graduates can provide clinical practice, school-based health, home health, public health, and acute and long-term care facilities.
Advanced therapeutic decision-making in the field of nursing is one example. Developmental courses are offered in various areas, including growth, physical, and cognitive development. Specialty coursework teaches nurses to think like doctors and make sound clinical judgments. Nurses also learn pathophysiology, whole assessment, and pharmacotherapeutics as part of their education.
The online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at Western Thomas Jefferson University will prepare students to sit for the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care Examination from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner – Medical University of South Carolina
The Doctor of Nursing Practice with a track in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program from the Medical University of South Carolina is a professional degree that will help you develop into a primary medical caregiver. This degree may be perfect for you if you want to work with patients of all ages!
Some of the things you will learn in this course include:
- Behavioral health
- Palliative care
- Substance abuse
The curriculum has a framework of evidence-based practice and holistic health and prevention. In addition, this innovative education ensures that all pupils can treat both acute and chronic illnesses.
Advanced Certificate in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – SUNY Polytechnic Institute
The online Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Advanced Certificate program is designed for completing an MS in Nursing. The program requires completing a minimum of 28 credits and 400 clinical hours to earn the advanced certificate. Students can choose to pursue this specialization as part-time or full-time students but must complete all required courses within three years if they are enrolled part-time.
This fully online nurse practitioner program offers two tracks. One track with clinical placements near students’ homes. The other one allows students to work with faculty advisors. The PMHNP program requires the completion of three core courses:
- Advanced Practice Nursing Roles
- Advanced Assessment Diagnostic Reasoning
PMHNP graduates prepare for national certification exams through either ANCC or AANP. Students will also qualify for roles as primary care providers, educator-scholars, researchers, and leaders in nursing practice.
Post-Master’s Certificate in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – Madonna University
Madonna University offers a Post-Master’s Certificate in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner degree. This online program is for nurses who want to advance their careers and help care for young adults, adults, and older adults. You will learn how to help them when they are sick or have a health condition.
At Madonna University, they focus on evidence patient care. The courses focus on preventing illnesses, quality assurance, and seamless care coordination. Graduates have a lot of experience working in different hospitals and with different patients. They completed 600 hours of supervised work in other areas.
Post-Graduate Certificate in Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Rush University
Rush University offers a Post Graduate Certificate in Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner degree online for nurses who are already advanced practice registered nurses. This program will help you learn more to help take care of people who are very sick. You’ll know how to cater to this group’s unique physiological and mental demands. This care might include complicated monitoring and managing intensive therapies while working with an inter-professional team to ensure optimal patient care.
How to Choose an Online Nurse Practitioner Program
When searching for an ideal online nurse practitioner program, it’s crucial to consider various factors. Check them out below.
Accreditation and Credibility
The lure of acquiring promising career opportunities after graduation is a significant factor that draws many students to enroll in online nurse practitioner programs. These days, most employers seek graduates from universities that have maintained their reputation for years.
You can be assured of an employer’s preference if the university you attended is accredited and credible, as they guarantee quality education and knowledge transfer. Most schools offer different accreditations depending on the program you choose to pursue.
Still, it would help if you went with one with regional accreditation only since this type covers all studies at every level. As such, your degree will be acceptable anywhere in the country whenever it’s time to apply for work or further your studies. Once you’ve selected accredited schools offering online Master’s in nursing, you can proceed to check the credibility of each school.
Faculty support is one of the most important factors students consider when choosing an online program. After all, you will be interacting with your professors mainly through emails and discussion boards. Therefore, it’s essential to select a school whose professors are supportive and knowledgeable in their field of study.
The best way to gauge this criterion is by reading reviews written by previous students on different websites. In addition, reach out to current students or recent graduates of the program you’re interested in for more insight into faculty support at that school.
Different online programs have separate fees. Therefore, it’s essential to find out the cost of attending your preferred school as early as possible. This factor differs from one state to another. Still, you can always compare prices between schools offering similar degree programs in your area. Additionally, some institutions provide scholarships and financial aid for students who qualify. Therefore, list all the schools you can afford and choose an ideal one based on other factors discussed above.
One of the many advantages of pursuing your degree online is studying at your own pace. This flexibility gives students more control over their time and effectively balances work, family, and school responsibilities. However, not all programs offer this flexibility. Hence, it’s essential to research different schools before deciding. In addition, find out if there are any required on-campus visits or residencies since some students may not attend these meetings for various reasons.
What is the Fastest Way to Become a Nurse Practitioner?
The fastest way to become a nurse practitioner is to complete an online nurse practitioner program. These programs allow students to earn their degrees without commuting or relocating. Online nurse practitioner programs are also convenient because they offer flexible scheduling options.
When choosing an online nurse practitioner program, it is essential to consider the school’s accreditation status. It is also vital to ensure that the program meets all of your state’s requirements for licensure.
What Is the Easiest Nurse Practitioner Program?
Some of the most accessible nurse practitioner programs include:
- Occupational health nurse practitioner program
- Pediatric nurse practitioner
- Aesthetic nurse practitioner
- Family nurse practitioner
Can You Go Straight to Nurse Practitioner?
Yes, you can. The first step is finding out whether or not you qualify for an NP program. You don’t have to go through any training to become a Nurse Practitioner right away. This route isn’t for everyone. Working as an RN may help you learn and develop fundamental clinical abilities and professionalism that will benefit you in your NP school and first job.
Which NP Specialty Makes the Most Money?
Nurse practitioners who work in the orthopedics, emergency care, and women’s health fields tend to make more money than other NP’s. According to US News & World Report, radiologic nurse practitioners earn approximately $106,650 annually. In comparison, medical-surgical nurses get paid a median of almost $97K per year (as of May 2013). Those employed by the Veterans Health Administration earn top salaries at over 100K per annum on average.
Which Age is too Late for Becoming a Nurse Practitioner?
When it comes to nursing practitioner programs, the age at which you begin is not as important as how long it takes to complete your training. Some students go back to school later in life and can complete their NP program successfully in just a couple of years.
An online nurse practitioner degree offers many benefits, including flexible scheduling, convenient coursework, and great job opportunities after graduation (evidenced by high starting salaries).
Is the Nurse Practitioner Market Oversaturated?
If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner, it’s essential to consider the current job market for NPs.
Another study reveals that employment opportunities are also good in rural areas. Many hospitals have trouble attracting other medical professionals such as physicians due to their remote locations and fewer available high-paying jobs nearby. People who live outside large cities rely on nurses more than others. That means having an expert such as a certified nurse practitioner can be critical when there aren’t enough doctors around.
While some employers may be hesitant to hire nurse practitioners because of their relatively new status, this hesitation slowly dissipates. A nurse practitioner has become an accepted and respected profession in its own right over the past few years, with many medical facilities now employing these highly skilled professionals. Therefore, if you’re wondering whether or not it’s too late to become a nurse practitioner, don’t worry. There are plenty of job opportunities available for those who have completed the necessary training.
Is Becoming a Nurse Practitioner Worth It?
For many nursing students, becoming a nurse practitioner is worth it. If you want to advance your nursing profession and have more prospects, obtaining your NP degree may be a competent, professional move.
Nurse practitioners are currently ranked at number two on the list of highest-paying jobs for nurses, with anticipated employment growth of 52% between now and 2029.
The nurse practitioner program is one of the most sought-after programs in nursing. There are several online NP degree options available to students today, making it easier to pursue their education at home or on the go. Therefore, if you would like to pursue this, don’t hesitate to do it because of the location. With online NP programs, you can get the education you need and maintain your current lifestyle. What’s more, it has plenty of benefits to offer such as reasonable remuneration and opportunities for career advancement.