You chose a different job inside or outside the healthcare industry, but now the prospect of becoming a nurse practitioner seems very inviting to you. Maybe it is salary, or perhaps it is your passion to leave an imprint on people’s lives and help them get better. In addition to that, the job security and work status you’ll receive as a nurse is inviting. Either way, you have made up your mind now and want to know more about ways you can become a nurse practitioner without a BSN degree. But before we discuss that, let us first understand the job of a nurse practitioner.
Who is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a primary as well as a specialty healthcare provider who works in collaboration with other healthcare service providers or independently. In addition, nurse practitioners work in specific fields and areas of healthcare, such as geriatric, pediatric, psychiatric health, etc.
The good news is that you don’t need a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or even have a background in nursing to become a nurse practitioner. However, you still need an advanced degree to acquire your nurse practitioner license. For this purpose, you can pursue MSN to NP programs online and acquire higher education while continuing your work in the current field. In addition, online programs will give you the flexibility to pursue higher education on your schedule. This makes them a reliable alternative to the traditional mode of learning for students working any job. With that in mind, let us outline how you can pursue a career as a nurse practitioner without a BSN degree.
Join Accelerated Nursing Programs
Typically, you need to have some experience in nursing to become a nurse practitioner. However, there are MSN options that do not require any prior experience of working as a nurse or a BSN degree. These are known as direct-entry MSN programs and are also known as accelerated nursing programs. These programs are designed for people who have no prior education or experience in the field and are suitable for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in other subjects. These accelerated nursing programs only take two to four years to complete, including general nursing courses.
Direct entry MSN programs include specific coursework to become a registered nurse first and acquire a license. During the duration, you will also gain a lot of clinical experience. This clinical experience will help you during your license examination to become a registered nurse (RN).
Obtain your Registered Nursing License
Once you have completed your direct entry MSN program, you need to acquire a license to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN). For this purpose, you must apply to NCLEX-RN according to your state’s regulations and then register yourself to take the necessary exam. The NCLEX-RN is a very complicated test that has different types of questions designed to assess a person’s critical thinking skills and nursing knowledge. Therefore, we recommend that you take the test immediately after completing your education so that all the knowledge is still fresh in your mind. Then, once you pass your NCLEX-RN exam, you will become a registered nurse (RN) in your state.
Gain Experience in the Field
Now that you have become a registered nurse, you will need a year of experience working as a professional nurse under your belt. Before you pursue an advanced nursing position as an NP, you must have a clear idea of the groundwork in nursing. Moreover, you will need to broaden your knowledge about nursing skills and other medical professionals to choose a specialization.
Prepare for NP Education
You need experience in the field because most NP educational programs require the student to be an RN with field experience. Moreover, you must have an active registered nurse license under your name, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Earn your Nurse Practitioner Degree
Now that you are an RN and have an accelerated MSN degree, a full-time MSN NP program or a post-grad NP certificate is your quickest path to becoming a nurse practitioner.
The full-time MSN NP program takes two years to complete, and you can learn through online education or the traditional method. However, this program’s clinical requirements are intense, and you will need more than 600 clinical experience hours.
Obtain a Nurse Practitioner Certificate
Once you have a year-long experience, you will have to start your certification, considering you will be an advanced practice registered nurse. You can acquire certification in different programs such as:
- Acute care nurse practitioner certificate (ACNP for adults or pediatric)
- Primary care nurse practitioner certificate (NP for adults of pediatric)
- Clinical nurse specialist certificate (CNS)
- Nurse-midwife certificate etc.
Typically, you will need 13 credit hours to complete your certification program. However, the time you have to spend completing these courses vary according to the school. Moreover, you will have to complete a duration of preceptorship, where you will be working under the guidance of a nurse practitioner in the healthcare setting.
Obtain a License and Start your Practice
Once you have passed your certification, you will be officially recognized as a Certified Nurse Practitioner. For your license, you will need an MSN degree, a national certification as NP, and an RN license. With these in hand, you can acquire your license to become a nurse practitioner and start your practice.
However, you will need to maintain your certification according to the state’s requirements. Many regulations determine the scope of practice of a nurse practitioner. According to these regulations and your position, you can serve in full-practice, restricted-practice, or reduced-practice. Therefore, you must keep an eye on the current requirements of maintaining certification and license as a nurse practitioner in your state.
The present is the best time to take action towards a better future, no matter your previous background. Your bachelor’s degree in any other subject cannot hinder your pursuit of a safe career. Moreover, now is a good time to switch jobs and become a nurse practitioner due to the accelerated job scope in the industry.
In addition to that, the six-figure average yearly pay does not hurt anybody. However, working as a nurse practitioner gives you so much more than a safe career. It provides the opportunity to help fellow human beings and aid them in their pain and sickness. For this reason, nursing is an ideal career choice, no matter what.