When you are working as a nurse, there are plenty of different roles and areas that you could work in. Online nurse practitioner programs are a way to train to work in a specific area of nursing, such as paediatrics or gerontology. NPs (nurse practitioners) are incredibly skilled and valuable members of a healthcare team, providing high-quality medical and emotional support and education to a range of people. As this is an advanced nursing role, it requires additional training, and online nurse practitioner programs can give you this and make you eligible to apply for these kinds of roles, eventually leading you to working in your dream nursing role.
What are nurse practitioner programs?
The online nurse practitioner programs are BSN to MSN/NP programs that can give you the clinical expertise to treat, prevent, assess and manage diseases in the area of nursing that you have chosen. The programs take 24-30 months to complete, depending on which pathway you choose.
The pathways are as follows:
- Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner degree: 28 months to complete
- Family nurse practitioner degree: 30 months to complete
- Paediatric nurse practitioner degree: 28 months to complete
- Adult-gerontology, primary care, nurse practitioner degree: 24 months to complete
Each pathway consists of different courses including theoretical perspectives for advanced practice and moral and ethical decision-making, and each course takes 7 weeks to complete. To make the programs as manageable as possible, you can take one course at a time, with a 1-week break in between each course.
There are also various entry criteria that you will have to fulfil, including:
- 3.0 GPA
- Unrestricted and unencumbered current nursing licence
- BSN degree from a regionally accredited institution or nursing program
These programs are designed for practising RNs who want a flexible study option that can be completed alongside their current role and shifts. It is very important to make sure that you are eligible for the online nurse practitioner programs, as they require a higher level of qualifications and training due to the advanced nature of the NP roles.
Benefits of online study
The online nurse practitioner programs use blended learning, which is the combination of remote and in-person teaching and learning methods. This style of learning is incredibly beneficial, as it is flexible and also helps you create a schedule and learning space that fits all of your requirements. Blended learning can make for a more personal learning experience that is better catered to you and your learning styles and preferences. Online learning can also help you save money, develop your personal skills and become a confident and motivated independent learner:
With online BSN to NP programs, you will get a high level of education and will learn the technical skills and knowledge required to apply for your dream NP role. When you learn online, you will also be able to develop important personal characteristics and skills that will help you succeed in any workplace, and there are some that are particularly beneficial for nurses. These are soft skills, and they are non-technical, highly transferable skills that make you stand out in the workplace as a great team player. Employers look for them on your resumé, and by studying online you will be able to provide practical examples of times when you have used these skills to give to potential employers in a job interview or application.
Soft skills include:
- Time management
- Problem solving
- Conflict resolution
When you are learning online, you will be using a combination of your soft skills to overcome any barriers and challenges that you face. For example, learning at home can make it hard to motivate yourself, as there is no teacher or tutor physically there with you. There is also no classroom setting or classmates to motivate you. Using your self-motivation skills will help keep up your momentum while you learn at home, and inspire you to continue learning. The ability and willingness to constantly learn is a great skill to have as a nurse, as the medical industry is always evolving, and you need to be able to update your knowledge to ensure that you are always providing the most up-to-date care to your patients.
One benefit of blended learning is the flexibility that it affords you as a student and employee. The online BSN to NP programs are designed for RNs who are already practising, and want to continue to do so throughout their additional training. This always allows you to continue earning money while you study. Self-paced studying is also incredibly useful as it allows you to tailor your learning to your needs and requirements, therefore improving your experience and enjoyment of the program. You will also have more control over your learning environment and schedule, giving you the ability to work out what learning methods work best for you, which is valuable information to use again in the future when you need to learn new information in the workplace or future training opportunities.
If your local university does not offer the subjects, levels or course types you require, then this can cause some issues for your career advancement. You may have to choose a different course – which can be a waste of time and money – or study on a less flexible course type. The online nurse practitioner programs are mostly studied from home, so you don’t have to commute to classes daily, and your physical location matters much less. Furthermore, when you learn at home you have much more control over your learning environment, and you can create a comfortable space to work in that fits all of your needs and requirements.
It can be expensive to be a student, especially at master’s level, with costs including rent, travel, tuition fees, and living costs. The financial side of studying can put a lot of people off of pursuing further education, especially if you already have a job and qualification. With online nurse practitioner programs, you can work and study at the same time, which means you can still continue to earn money. The tuition fees for online degrees are often cheaper than in-person degrees, and you may still be eligible for financial support and student discounts. Furthermore, when learning at home, you won’t have to spend as much money on travel or commuting, and won’t have to worry as much about finding and renting campus accommodation.
What are the career outcomes?
Studying online nurse practitioner programs will enable you to work in your chosen specialism as an NP. NPs are mid-level practitioners, with one of their primary functions being to educate patients on their health, in order to promote wellness. NPs also perform many of the clinical and diagnostic functions of a doctor, without being trained as one, as they are nonphysician clinicians. Even though the specific tasks of an NP will vary depending on the area and role, general NP responsibilities can include prescribing and managing medication, making treatment plans, managing patient care, assessments and diagnoses and educating patients, caregivers and family members. Furthermore, in some states NPs can work independently, without the supervision of a physician.
Depending on the program pathway that you choose, the online nurse practitioner programs can prepare you to work in one of the following roles:
Family nurse practitioner
FNPs treat patients across all genders, ages, diseases and body systems. They understand the importance of family-centred healthcare, and prioritize preventative care. FNPs are also be able to treat serious illness. The setting in which you could work as an FNP may include private practices, internal medicine clinics, hospitals and also areas that have historically long waiting lists for physicians.
Paediatric nurse practitioner
PNPs work with patients who are newborns to young adults. They focus on primary care and chronic and acute illnesses. As a PNP you could work in settings such as private practices, or alongside paediatricians.
Adult gerontology, primary care, nurse practitioner
AGNPs treat patients from the ages of 21 and upwards, and those who focus on primary care treat patients who are not usually ill.
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
PMHNPs provide a mental health services to individuals, groups and communities. As a PMHNP you can choose to work generally, or specialize in areas such as geriatrics or forensics; and PMHNPs can work different settings including schools, trauma centres, prisons or with substance abuse programs.
These are incredibly rewarding nursing careers that will allow you to help many people – individuals, groups and communities. You will be able to offer medical and emotional care and support to patients and their loved ones, and there is a great deal of patient education involved in working as a nurse practitioner, too.
What are the skills you need to be a nurse practitioner?
The online nurse practitioner programs give you the technical knowledge you need to work in your chosen NP role, as well as helping to develop the personal skills that help make a great nurse. If you are already working as an RN, then you will be aware of the many characteristics and personal skills that are required in nursing, and will know that you use a combination of these skills and your medical skills every day when dealing with patients, families and colleagues. These skills include:
Compassion is sympathy combined with the desire to fix whatever is causing the patient pain or distress, and is a common driving force behind many people wanting to work in the healthcare industry.
The ability to put yourself in the shoes of your patients, to try and better understand their situation, thoughts and feelings, and can help you provide a more personal service to your patients.
This can be both physical and emotional. Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet, as well as lifting and moving machinery, equipment and patients. Emotional stamina is required in stressful and emotional roles such as nursing, as it can help keep you safe and healthy, and lower the risk of problems such as compassion fatigue and burnout.
Speaking, listening and observing skills are constantly used by nurses. You will be conveying important medical information and educating people who may not have the same level of training and medical knowledge as you.
NPs often work as part of a larger, multidisciplinary medical team, and therefore collaboration skills are required to successfully work towards the best outcomes for your patients.
Critical thinking is the ability to objectively look at a situation and make a judgement on it, and your decision-making and problem-solving abilities will constantly be used in nursing, especially in pressurized situations.
Willingness to learn
The medical industry is constantly evolving and adapting, and you need to be willing and able to do the same in order to provide the most up-to-date care to your patients.
These are just a few of the many skills that help to make a great nurse, and the online nurse practitioner programs can help strengthen these within you, as well as teaching you how to apply them to the new scenarios you may face in your new NP role.
Online nurse practitioner programs can help you develop both personally and professionally, providing a high level of education and helping you reach your ideal nursing career. They are flexible and manageable, letting you work and study simultaneously. If you are a practising RN and are looking to boost your nursing career, then online nurse practitioner programs can help you do this, and even prepare you for further education and qualifications such as a DNP, which can lead you to work in even more advanced fields of nursing. These are rigorous yet rewarding courses that will allow you to delve deeper into your chosen area of nursing, and will open up more job opportunities for you, too. You will be a capable and skilled individual who is able to provide many different services to a high level, helping you lead a successful career as an NP or move further on into other advanced nursing roles.