Home / Career Guides / How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Every clinic and hospital needs good practitioners to fill the generalist position of providing care. Ordering tests, treating illnesses, conducting check-ups, and conversing with patients about treatments or preventative care are of the utmost importance. 

Nurse practitioners handle all these aspects and more. They are advanced practice nurses that can take care of everything from inpatient to outpatient needs, diagnosis, and consultation. Although generally independent, these medical experts can also work in teams. 

In order to become one, you’ll want to have years of experience developing the training and skills needed to perform as a medical practitioner. Aside from this, any relevant licenses and certifications in your state will be expected. You’ll want to have a strong sense of time management and organizational skills. Excellent written and verbal communication skills alongside listening and empathy are highly recommended for this role.

Sample job description

We are looking for an experienced nurse practitioner to join the team at [Your Company Name]. The nurse practitioner will be full-time and work at our local clinic. The ideal candidate will have previous experience in providing primary care to their patients, including administering initial examinations and recurring examinations. The candidate will be responsible for setting up machinery and relevant healthcare equipment. If chosen, you will also be responsible for recording medical data and results into the required systems, as well as presenting this information in a respectful and conversational manner to families and patients. If this sounds like you, please apply! Ideally, you will have previous experience in the medical field and good interpersonal skills. Having a nurse practitioner (NP) certification is an absolute must for this position.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Talk with patients and record their medical history
  • Examine and diagnose patients
  • Order medical tests
  • Prescribe medication
  • Develop treatment plans for patients
  • Monitor progress and adjust treatment as needed
  • Counsel patients and their families 
  • Consult with doctors and other medical professionals
  • Conduct research

Education and experience

Nurse practitioners must have a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in nursing or science and a master’s degree from an accredited program. Students must earn a registered nurse (RN) license before entering an advanced practice program. Many APRN candidates take a national certification exam, which is part of the licensing process. Nurse practitioners also should get certified in CPR, basic life support, and advanced cardiac life support.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills for dealing with patients, doctors, and staff
  • Discretion and the ability to handle confidential information
  • Leadership skills for managing other nurses
  • Ability to multitask and prioritize workload
  • Compassion and a calm, caring demeanor
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • LNP Certification
  • 2+ years of experience as a nurse practitioner in a clinic
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Typical work environment

Typically, nurse practitioners will be responsible for handling patient appointments and providing routine examinations for patients. The responsibilities of a nurse practitioner may include but are not limited to operating and maintaining healthcare machinery and equipment, providing primary care and examinations, as well as storing and relaying data and information. Nurse practitioners may have different specializations and vary on the field in which they work, though generally, nurse practitioner jobs will revolve around clinical care. Nurse practitioners will be assigned an appointment schedule and be in charge of completing appointments as they arrive. This position will likely be full-time and require certain levels of experience and relevant degrees.

Typical hours

Nurse Practitioners work a variety of schedules because some health-care facilities are open early in the morning, late at night, or 24 hours a day. As a result, nurse practitioners might work evenings, weekends, or holidays. They frequently log more than 40 hours a week and often are on call, meaning they must be available to work on short notice. APRNs sometimes need to travel to provide care in rural areas or patients’ homes.

Available certifications

A nurse practitioner needs some sort of degree or certificate relevant to their position. Some of the relevant certificates may include:

  • Nurse Practitioner (NP). The nurse practitioner certification is a must for anyone who wishes to work in this field. This certification is extremely relevant to the position and is required to become a nurse practitioner. This certification is offered by a multitude of boards, including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board and the National Certification Corporation among a multitude of others. Because this certification is widely recognized, it is the foremost certification for this position.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A bachelor of science in nursing is an extremely good degree for any nurse practitioner. This degree will cover all the basics needed in order to successfully go into this field, and because of this is very relevant to the position. Earning this degree will take roughly four years to complete, and will set a nurse practitioner well on their way to landing a good position. There are also some fast-track options for specified locations and levels of education.

Career path

The first step to becoming a nurse practitioner is to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. A bachelor’s degree is required, ideally in nursing, followed by a master’s degree from an accredited program. These programs include rigorous science classes and hands-on clinical experience. A candidate needs to be licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) before studying for advanced practice. Most states require APRN candidates to pass a certification exam and earn their license from an organization such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 29-1171

2020 Employment220,300
Projected Employment in 2030335,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 52% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift114,900 increase

One trend is for nurse practitioners to continue their education and earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, which usually takes three to four years for someone who received a bachelor’s in nursing. A DNP isn’t required but will enhance a candidate’s career prospects and earning potential. 

Advanced practice registered nurses will continue to be in high demand because they can provide many of the same services that physicians do. 

Some hospitals provide tuition reimbursement for nurses who are pursuing advanced degrees.