Becoming a nurse practitioner can open up a lot of doors to helping you have a rewarding and satisfying career you are sure to love. As a nurse practitioner, you will be there to help others and make a difference in the world, all while earning a good income that can set you up for life. 

As you explore whether becoming a nurse practitioner is the right choice for you, you may wonder more about some of the steps that you will need to take to make this a reality. Some of the steps you can follow to become a nurse practitioner in 2022 include:

Become a Registered Nurse

One of the first steps to take to become a nurse practitioner is to become a registered nurse, or RN. There are several ways that you can become an RN. You can choose to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a nursing school or college, or you can go to an accredited vocational training institute and get a diploma. 

While the latter option may seem easier and a better idea, keep in mind that most employers are going to require that you have a bachelor’s degree to be successful or to even hire you. If you finish the degree, you will then need to take a standardized examination and pass it. You will not be an RN without this passing grade on the NCLEX-PN

Earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree

An aspiring nurse practitioner will find that the bachelor’s degree is the best option for them to reach their goals. This gives them enough time to learn the skills they need while also gaining enough clinical experience to make it through the journey ahead. 

The bachelor’s program will be a prerequisite to the NP program because it teaches the right skills to help you be successful. Some of the skills you can learn include:

  • Community health
  • Supervision
  • Research
  • Management
  • Quantitative skills
  • Communication skills

You can speed up the process by beginning your BSN program right after high school. Many nurses will wait and spend a few years in the field first and then go for the BSN degree. This is a possibility, but the professional may have to do the work part-time, which can slow down the process. 

Gain Experience in the Field

With the right education in place, you will be able to begin looking for the work you need in your field. You need to gain experience in the medical field before you can finish on with some of your work as a nurse practitioner. Most graduate schools will want to see that you not only have the necessary education, but that you have worked with patients in the field. 

All experience is welcome when it comes to applying to nursing school. But many will wonder how much experience is necessary for them to be ready for graduate school, on top of the schooling they already have. Most graduate programs require that the nursing professionals coming in have a minimum of two years of clinical experience. 

This amount of time will provide a good foundation to help them figure out what type of specialization they would like to focus on when they go into their graduate program. They know what they like and don’t like and can use that knowledge when going back to school. 

Enrolling in the Graduate Program

The minimum amount of education that you will need to gain a role as a nurse practitioner will be a MSN. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, there are currently 400 academic institutions that offer NP programs in the United States. This provides you a lot of options to go with, so how are you supposed to pick one for your needs?

There are a number of questions that you should ask before you pick one graduate program over another. Some of these include:

  • Does the institution offer some of the training I need in the area I wish to specialize in?
  • Does the institution offer part time and full-time programs?
  • Does the program offer my preferred mode of learning? This may be online or in person. 
  • Is the institution accredited to offer the program that I need?

It is important that you get all of these questions answered before you choose any program. This can ensure that you go with the right program and do not get stuck taking on a program that does not offer all that you are looking for. 

How Long Does a MSN Take?

As you work to gain a MSN so you can become a nurse practitioner, you may wonder how long it will take you to get the degree that you would like. If you want to earn a master’s degree, this can often be done within 18 to 24 months. If you would like to take this a step further and earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, then you will need to set aside two to three years to accomplish it. 

Getting a degree as a nurse takes some time to accomplish, but there is a ton of information that you need to know along the way as well. This length of time for an education will ensure that you are ready to go. Some of the lengths you should be prepared for include:

  • BSN to MSN will take 18 to 24 months if you can commit to doing it full-time. 
  • RN to MSN will require 3 to 5 years for full-time and 5 years if you do it part-time
  • MSN to DNP can take 12 to 24 months for full-time but 3 years for part-time

Choosing to Become a Nurse Practitioner

There are many great career choices that you can make in the field of nursing or anywhere in the medical field. As you work to progress through the different positions in your field, becoming a nurse practitioner may be a natural next step. Take a look at some of the steps above and see what you can do to become a nurse practitioner too!