Nurse Practitioner Training Guide

Debra Riley


One of the most rapidly evolving careers in health care is that of nurse practitioner (NP). The NP is a registered nurse (RN) who has undertaken further study and advanced practice in a particular field of specialization. They carry out many functions similar to those of a medical doctor, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, writing prescriptions and may order and interpret diagnostic procedures such as lab tests and EKGs.

It is expected that by the year 2022 this particular profession would have grown by 33.7% creating 37, 100 new positions. These figures are according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and provide sufficient incentive for persons to consider becoming nurse practitioners.


While NPs enjoy an enviable salary scale and a reassuring level of job security, it takes several years of study and clinical experience to gain certification as one. I hope you have read my overview of Nurse Practitioner career – it covers the basics.

There are several pathways that may be taken to NP certification, and a host of options for study tailored to meet the needs of individuals who seek to acquire such certification. In the case of new students, it may take anywhere from 5 to 7 years for them to complete study and training and be ready for certification as a nurse practitioner.

If the applicant already possesses a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing, there are programs available that allow them to complete the nurse practitioner master’s degree in about three years.

Registered Nurses who already hold a bachelor’s degree may opt to pursue the master’s degree program. This generally can be completed in 1 to 3 years. Post graduate certificate programs are available for nurses who already have a master’s in a different area. These may last anywhere from 2 to 9 months. The length of study in each case will depend on the area of specialization and the school attended.

Options – NP Online Training

Online study carries many benefits, among which is being able to retain your current job while you study at your own pace in your spare time.

Remaining at home while you study means being able to devote a greater portion of your time to family than you would be able to if you attended face-to-face classes.

Money may also be saved by not having to travel to classes or hire a sitter. The available options for online study to become a nurse practitioner are plenty but all will require that the requisite hours of practicum be completed at an approved health care service.

nurse practitioner training guide

Choosing the online option does not mean you have to miss out on contact time or assignments.  Many schools use video and television links to allow online students to become a part of the classroom setting and to feel in touch with lecturers and fellow students.

Schools also ensure that live chats and email are available to give the online student every opportunity to connect to the instructors and other students.

The Nurse Practitioner online training options cater to the varying entry levels of the applicants and seek to make matriculation possible for all worthy candidates.

To this end you can find online programs that offered courses for holders of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, or registered nurse certification to pursue becoming a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Although doctoral study will soon become a requirement for being certified as an NP, there are other courses that may be pursued by the nurse practitioner aspirant.

These programs include:

  • Acute Care NP – here nurses learn more about how to manage acute, chronic or critical patient conditions. They also widen their knowledge base in the areas of pharmacology and physiology. They are prepared to work in a variety of situations ranging from hospital to home care.
  • Neonatal NP – these nurses work with infants who are critically ill and their families and are trained to deliver their service with the necessary compassion and understanding.
  • Women’s Heath NP – dealing specifically with issues affecting women of all ages, these nurses receive the knowledge and skill need to meet the heath care needs of this vast population.
  • Psychiatric NP–here the NPs act as therapists and help patients with conditions ranging from depression to anxiety. They are trained in diagnosing mental illness and prescribing required medications.
  • Family NP – the concern is with the individual and the family across ages, genders, diseases and body systems. The focus here is on the holistic nature of health, health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Adult-Gerontology NP – the specialization here is the continued and comprehensive healthcare for adults ranging from adolescence to old age
  • Pediatric NP – nurses in this area treat babies to young adults. They diagnose illness, conduct examinations and prescribe medications.

Instruction in these programs follows the pattern of a focus on core content then on the area of specialization selected. Students should expect to do applied research and to produce a thesis or some other scholarly work. More information on programs offered online sources may be found at the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Persons wishing to undertake an online course of study to become a nurse practitioner should first check through as many of the available options as they can. Bear in mind the area of specialization you are interested in, the amount of on campus time that may be required, and perhaps most importantly whether the program is accredited. If it is not accredited then you may not be able to receive certification and licensure to practice as an NP after completing and paying for many years of study.

Nurse Practitioner Schools – Training Offline

Many persons find online study to be impersonal and would rather be in actual face to face contact with the deliverers of the content. They may also feel that doing an online program requires a lot of self-discipline to ensure that you make time to actually keep up with your courses.

For such persons there is a plethora of choices that they may peruse before settling on an option. These include a choice between full-time and part-time study and the related concern of whether leave time might be available at any point during the program.

We have researched Nursing Schools in a number of US states to find some of the best options for nurse practitioner training programs – you can follow the links for details in each state:

These schools offer a range of different nursing programs covering different specialties. For more specific training you might be interested in CRNA Schools – this lists different states with dedicated nurse anesthetist training programs. Here are some of our most popular states for CRNA schools and programs:

Going Foward

Don’t forget to have a good look around this site for details of other nursing careers and salaries. Interested in RN Training programs or perhaps how to train as a Licensed Practical nurse – a common way to get into a nursing career while working.

A nursing career has so many entry levels and of course career progression is always possible no matter your age or experience.

If you are going to nursing school you’ll need to find somewhere to study – see our blog post on the best places to study – a fun look at some ideas!

As always – use our main salary guides to see different nursing salaries by specialty and across different states and cities in the U.S.