Nurse practitioners are advanced-practice nurses who may typically practice in collaboration with physicians, but may enjoy more autonomy than registered nurses. Nurse Practitioners may have the ability to see their own patients, develop treatment plans, and prescribe medication in some states.
Nurse practitioner schools are graduate-level programs leading to a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree, or to a doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP).
The master's degree programs may be typically two years in length. Curriculum and classes may include advanced nursing theory, statistics and research, and clinical courses with an emphasis on family practice, women's health care, pediatrics, neonatal care, or geriatrics and adult care.
Nurse practitioner students learn to expand on basic nursing skills with in-depth medical history taking, physical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Preventive care and anticipatory guidance are emphasized.
The doctorate level programs are usually three years in length, with additional emphasis on research competencies and health information technology. Leadership and business concepts for health care systems may also be included. While the MSN degree may be the requirement for nurse practitioner careers currently, the DNP will become the entry level degree in 2015.
Employment opportunities for graduates of nurse practitioner schools are excellent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse practitioners are expected to be in high demand especially in rural and urban areas which are medically underserved. According to a survey by ADVANCE magazine for nurse practitioners, the median salary for NPs was $92,345 in 2009.
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