Nurse Practitioner Schools
There are many opportunities, places and programs for education for students interested in becoming nurse practitioners. There are universities, specialty programs, colleges and online programs. The growing need for the field has expanded in the last five years and continues to grow rapidly. To find the best in nursing schools it is best to visit the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission, Inc. (NLNAC) and obtain the Accreditation Manual to select the best school for you in your area. As a board certified nurse, you can make nearly $10,000 more per year than those who do not have board certification, according to the NLNAC.
The NLNAC can offer students guidance about school selection. Take the time to research academics, offerings, individualized attention, online components, and most importantly, the areas of interest for specialization. Determining an area of interest for specialization will be essential because of the coming changes to the education requirements for nurse practitioners.
Nurse Practitioner School Accreditation
For a school to be accredited it must meet the educational guidelines established by the National League of Nursing Accreditation Council (NLNAC). This governing body establishes the guidelines for programs to ensure that they meet minimum accreditation for the student enrolling into a school to become a nurse practitioner.
This accreditation process is voluntary for a school and is a review process that is intended to improve and enhance quality education. Through this peer review process the NLNAC will evaluate the nursing education program and re-evaluate it by a qualified and independent group to ensure that the college, university or online institution is meeting the postsecondary and higher education purposes with satisfactory standards. There will be an assessment of the professional development opportunities and validation for the faculty who work there. This is the gateway to licensure, certification, and eligibility for various entitlement programs. The NLNAC will offer suggestions to the areas that need development to meet the minimum education requirements to achieve accreditation.
The standards of accreditation are set forth by the NLNAC. The single most important function of the nurse is the improvement of the human condition. Every certificate, diploma or degree has a set of specific outcomes to achieve this goal. Postsecondary and higher education provide the learning environment for students and the ability to have them make decisions for themselves. They can master analytical problems, use their scientific knowledge and make valuable judgments within their specific program. Education requires a broad academic base with depth and intellectual skills that will translate into competencies to fulfill nursing functions in all areas of nursing.
This process will change slightly with the implementation of the consensus model for the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) educational requirements for 2015. The National Council of the State Board of Nursing will assist the advisory board with implementing the change for a smooth transition. As discussed earlier, many programs have already started the process to ensure they will be in compliance when the new guidelines take effect. When the APRN educational programs are pre-approved, this will eliminate the chance for a student to not be eligible for certification and/or licensure. The APRN can ensure the programs that are pre-approved will meet the educational standards and that the graduates will be eligible to take national certification examinations.
Choosing a School
There are numerous schools to choose from. Nurse practitioner schools can be stand-alone universities, online institutions, colleges and each can offer different benefits depending on the desires of the student.
What factors should a student consider when selecting a school? First, be sure that the school you choose meets the accreditation standards set by the state board of nursing and licensure. These standards are in place to ensure that the program meets all of the requirements a student must meet to complete and graduate. This also ensures that the student can take the licensing examination and certification in their state of practice.
When selecting a program, students should consider the adoption of the new doctorate education guidelines for a doctorate in nursing as the coming standard requirement. The process right now is quite fragmented and this is partly why there is a new consensus model developed. This new model will provide a uniform approach to advanced practice licensure, accreditation, certification and education. This can assist the incoming student in his or her school selection and streamline the education process in general.
When thinking of where to go to school, take into consideration persons that you may know who have already gone through the process. Talk to a nurse practitioner who is current in practice – someone who you feel comfortable asking questions about his or her experiences. It is always helpful to talk to someone who has gone through the same process. This person may be able to provide insight into how to apply for schools, narrow down your choices, and what to expect for class, clinical size and rotations.
Applying to NP Schools
While deciding that you’d like to go back to school can be a simple decision, deciding on the school can be a tough choice. After research, a tour, talking with current and graduating students the decision is up to you. Once you’ve decided, the application process begins and varies by school. You want the program to be a good fit for you, and keep in mind that the more prestigious the school, the harder it will be to get accepted. Consider these tips while making your decision and applying to the nurse practitioner program of your choice:
- Read the application and the guidelines thoroughly. Be sure to follow the directions. You may not be accepted if you do not follow the application process correctly. Ensure that you meet all application deadlines. Impress the acceptance board with a timely and organized professional submission of your application and all the requested and required documentation.
- Visit the schools that you are considering applying to. This includes online schools, which will have mostly virtual tours available for your convenience. Chat with staff members via conference calls and virtual question boards. This can provide a better view of the school or schools you finally select to submit your nurse practitioner application to and also provide a name with a face for recognition. Talk with staff members who will often e-mail those who are in charge of the final decision process and make a positive impact on them when you visit.
- Ensure that you have excellent letters of recommendation. Reach out to professors, colleagues, or current nurse practitioners with whom you have worked and ask them to provide a letter of recommendation.
- Follow all guidelines set forth by the board or acceptance committee. This will ensure a smooth application process. Be sure that you choose your top two schools. Then follow the processes outlined by each school. Your application should show that you would succeed and excel in a nurse practitioner program. Fulfill any last-minute requests of the school and ensure completion by the deadlines.
A career as a nurse practitioner can offer many interesting options for practice after graduation and certification takes place. The endless selection of specialties is sure to fulfill the desires for the future of health care today and tomorrow.
Last Updated: 05/19/2014