How Do I Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Nursing, Professional Nursing Practice 10

Click play above to hear The Nurse Practitioner Show Episode 025: How Do I Become a Nurse Practitioner

Shattered Dream

I remember the first day I saw a nurse practitioner. I was confused how someone that wasn’t a member of the elite paternalistic medial profession could prescribe orders to me as the registered nurse caring for the patient. I had so many patients on the medical-surgical floor I was working on that day, and I didn’t have much time for discussion. I saw the charge nurse and inquired “who is the lady writing orders in the patients’ charts.” The charge nurse answered, “oh, she’s a nurse practitioner. She’s like a physician, but not a physician. She’s a RN who went back to school to be a nurse practitioner (NP).” Puzzled, I continued asking questions, “how do you go from an RN to an NP? What do you have to do in order to be an NP?” She answered,”oh honey, you have to get your master’s degree!”

That was it, it was impossible. My short-lived dream of only one minute was shattered. I would never be a nurse practitioner. I was 18 years old and it was the mid-1990’s. Across the street from the hospital was the college that I received my associate of science in nursing (ADN) in order to be licensed as a registered nurse (RN). I thought about all the sleepless nights I had studying, going to sleep at 4am, and tears running down my cheeks at 7am in the shower wondering how I would survive another day of nursing school. I could’t imagine repeating that torture for four more years. I lived in a rural area in South Carolina. That NP was a rarity I convinced myself. No one seemed to understand her role or easily accept her position. I was 18 years old, working as an RN, had just bought my dream red convertible car and was buying my first home. Although before starting nursing school at 16 years of age, I prayed I would be able to earn a doctorate in nursing before I turned 40 years old, I had better things to do than contemplate enduring more torture of what I had just survived.

Fast forward a little over a decade, and I was working in The Big Apple at New York University Medical Center. I was surrounded by some of the most fabulous nurses from across the country. The hospital was Magnet certified by the ANCC, nursing education was paramount to the clinical ladder and expected of the nursing staff. Within the hospital, 92% had earned an BSN degree and approximately 35% of nursing staff had earned an MSN degree. I was fascinated with their NYC attitude and uncompromising expectations for evidenced-based practice. If patient outcomes did not meet their expectations, no worries, it would be discussed in meetings. These nurses told nursing leadership what policies needed to be changed based on their scholarly literature findings. Nurses developed plans to improve patient outcomes and meet expectations of their profession providing healthcare. Unknowingly, these nurses empowered and motivated me to pursue continuing my nursing education as a nurse practitioner. Best of all, I did earn my doctorate in nursing before my 40th birthday, after all. Dreams do come true! So, how do you become a nurse practitioner?

What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

How To Become a Nurse PractitionerThe history of the nurse practitioner profession began with the two pioneers and founders of the nurse practitioner profession: Dr. Loretta Ford, a nurse,  and her colleague Dr. Henry Silver, a pediatrician. There was a strong demand and need within society for primary care services. Understanding this need within public health and the nursing profession’s ability to meet the need of access to primary care services led to development of the nurse practitioner role and the first NP program in 1965. Many refer to the physician shortage as prompting the growth of NP programs. However, Dr. Ford has clarified the NP role was developed to meet society’s need for primary care services, and the physician shortage simply provided the opportunity for nurse practitioners to meet a public health need within their capability.

NPs are advanced practice nurses. They have received an undergraduate baccalaureate degree and licensure as a registered nurse. In addition, a nurse practitioner has received advanced graduate education. In order to become a

Read the rest of this article written by Dr. Rachel as guest nurse blogger for Nurse Beth at 

A special thanks to Gebauer’s Pain Ease for sponsoring this episode of The Nurse Practitioner Show™.

Check Out Our Most Recent Posts