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5 Reasons to Become a Nurse Practitioner

5 Reasons to Become a Nurse Practitioner

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Nursing has become a great career track full of extensive settings and options. One advancement option for nurses that is increasing in popularity is becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

Working in a hospital – it seems as though everyone is in graduate school for their nurse practitioner, or at least thinking about it! Most medical professionals know the role that Nurse Practitioners perform. Nurse Practitioners function similar to that of a physician – ordering tests, diagnosing, and treating various medical issues.

The capacity and autonomy of the Nurse Practitioner really depends on the location, the clinical setting, and the specific facility.

Oftentimes, Nurse Practitioners work hand-in-hand with physicians to provide comprehensive care to patients – both healthy and sick, acute, and nonacute.

To some, this may seem like too much responsibility. To others, it may be the perfect challenge with a whole host of benefits. Here are 5 reasons to consider becoming a nurse practitioner!

1. Better work environment

This one can definitely depend on which job you end up taking as a Nurse Practitioner, but in general you will find a better work environment as a Nurse Practitioner.

The work involved as a Nurse Practitioner is more of a mental game as opposed to a physical one. Bedside nursing is TOUGH – it wreaks havoc on your physical body. Additionally, you take the blame for basically everything and if anyone is getting yelled at – it is likely to be you.

As a Nurse Practitioner, you are “higher up” on the totem pole. Your job is to treat the patient with critical thinking – as opposed to physically carrying out the orders. While this brings its own slew of challenges, it is less physically demanding.

Additionally, patients and colleagues will often treat you with more respect – you’d be surprised the difference a white-coat can make.

Many nurse practitioner jobs offer better hours to supply a better work-life balance. Many office settings work Monday-Friday, with certain days off or “short” days.

This schedule is desirable to many professionals with families. However, some people enjoy their 3-day work week, and there are hospital jobs available to Nurse Practitioners to fill that desire as well.

2. Better Income ($$$)

Let’s not kid ourselves – this is probably one of the biggest motivational factors involved when someone considers becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

A pay raise is expected when transitioning from a bedside nurse to a Nurse Practitioner. While this isn’t always the case depending on your location and current bedside nursing job, most people can expect a significant pay raise when making the career change from bedside nurse to Nurse Practitioner.

While starting out as a new graduate Nurse Practitioner may not be a dramatic income increase, the potential for earnings with experience is undoubtedly much higher.

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a Nurse Practitioner in the US is $117,298. This does not factor in benefits or bonuses – which will also vary depending on the specific job.

No – you won’t always be able to expect this income as a new graduate nurse, but higher cost-of-living areas or very rural areas may offer great pay even to graduate Nurse Practitioners – especially in the inpatient setting. 

In the outpatient office setting, Nurse Practitioners can expect to make less (somewhere between 80-100K), but higher salaries are not unheard of in areas of need.

Related Article: How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?

3. Better Benefits

This seems to be a universal perk of being a Nurse Practitioner. While benefits as a bedside nurse aren’t terrible, benefits that come along with a Nurse Practitioner are better and negotiable.

Yes – all the standard benefits are almost always included with a Nurse Practitioner’s benefits including medical, dental, and vision. Retirement options are usually included as well with various options.

In addition to standard benefits – Nurse Practitioners can expect more time off each year. 4 weeks of vacation isn’t unheard of, and you should also be given time off for continuing education.

There should also be money set aside (~$1000-$3000) for continuing education which you can use yearly.

As a bedside nurse, you are lucky to get 2 weeks of vacation each year, with no money for continuing education.

Many companies will pay for the Nurse Practitioner’s certification and licensing fees as well as renewals. This includes your state licenses (both RN and NP), your DEA license, your CDS license, and your NPI. This can all add up, and it is helpful when the employer offers this perk.

Additionally, it is standard for employers to offer professional liability insurance – which is an absolute necessity when practicing at the Nurse Practitioner level.

Benefits will vary from employer to employer, but you can definitely expect better benefits as a Nurse Practitioner as opposed to a bedside nurse.

4. More Knowledge

If you like challenging yourself and learning as much as you can – becoming a Nurse Practitioner is the logical next step of your career.

Graduate and/or doctoral school is challenging and difficult. There is SO MUCH to learn, especially when patient decisions are going to be in your hands.

You will be responsible for the patient’s well-being – their lives literally depend on you.

Furthering your education is not meant to be easy. Physicians are given extensive time and training before they are able to make autonomous decisions for a patient. Nurses go back to school for 2-3 years and then are expected to practice in a similar manner. While completely possible – especially with physician collaboration – this is challenging.

You will learn so much – and you will continue to learn throughout your career. If you are a bedside nurse and find yourself constantly wanting more – then go for it! Sometimes there is just a deep desire and yearning for advancement that no amount of money or thrill as a bedside nurse can fill.

5. There is a Definite Need

There is a huge need for nurses, and some might say an even bigger need for Nurse Practitioners. This is because of the need for physicians – and Nurse Practitioners are being used to fill this gap and to practice at the highest level of their scope of practice. Nurse practitioners are needed in every setting – outpatient and inpatient, office and hospital, walmart and CVS.

If you find these 5 reasons to be worth going back to school, then go for it! Only you are holding yourself back. However, becoming a Nurse Practitioner is NOT for everyone. It is definitely demanding and will challenge you like nothing before. If you are unsure of whether or not to advance your career in this manner, here are 5 reasons to possible reconsider:

5 Reasons to Reconsider

1. You’re only thinking about the money

People want the higher paying job, but if they don’t love what they do – it might not be worth it.

There are many bedside nursing options that can vastly increase your pay without spending thousands of dollars on graduate school.

Graduate school is NOT cheap – I spent over $70K on my graduate education alone. You can consider travel nursing or management options if you only seek advancement for financial reasons.

2. You enjoy bedside nursing

Bedside nursing can be fun and enjoyable, especially in a well-managed department. Personally, working in the ER is fun and enjoyable, and the camaraderie is like none other.

This is still possible as a Nurse Practitioner – but likely will look different.

Besides, there is still a huge need for RNs, and if everyone became a Nurse Practitioner, who would actually be at the bedside with the patient!?

3. You struggle with tests

A Nurse Practitioner program will be full of exams. While more straightforward, exams will test you on a wide range of knowledge related to various medical conditions and their appropriate treatment.

If you are someone who struggles with tests, this may be something to consider before applying.

Additionally, there will be a certification exam through the AANP or the ANCC which you must pass before being able to practice as a Nurse Practitioner.

4. You can’t stand research or theory

There is a TON of research and theory involved in the Nurse Practitioner curriculum.

While some consider it to be too much (and not enough clinical-based education), there is undoubtedly a LOT of research articles you must read, research papers you must write, and other information to learn which isn’t directly clinical.

This includes classes such as ethics, leadership, family theory, and health promotion and maintenance. If you cannot stand these topics or the thought of taking these classes – you might want to reconsider.

5. Your schedule/finances

While this is always a factor – you will have to weigh your desire to becoming a Nurse Practitioner with your actual ability to complete school.

Your personal finances, your personal schedule, and your family-life will dictate your ability to complete a Nurse Practitioner program.

As stated before, it is a demanding and time-consuming process to become a Nurse Practitioner, and if you cannot allocate enough time to advancing your career, maybe now is not the best time. 

Many nurses, including myself, have worked or currently work full-time while completing their graduate programs. Depending on the program, this is possible – but this will not always be possible depending on your current situation.

If you cannot devote 80-100 hours to work full time and complete school, then you should possibly reconsider.

If you are lucky enough to be able to work part-time or not at all, then this will make your decision easier. Whether or not you recently decided to become a nurse practitioner, or it has always been your end-goal – it is a great option for the advancement of your career. There are tons of benefits to becoming an Advanced Practice Provider, and if it is something you desire – do your research.

Being a Nurse Practitioner is a rewarding career and you won’t regret it – so long as you do it for the right reasons.

Any other reasons you can think of to become a nurse practitioner? Let me know down in the comments!

NP Credentialing Process: Steps After Graduation

NP Credentialing Process: Steps After Graduation

So you’re just about to graduate from your Nurse Practitioner program (or already have), and you are ecstatic! But where do you go from here? The NP Credentialing Process can be a bit overwhelming.  After I graduated, all I wanted was an easy-to-follow tutorial to streamline the process. While the specifics may vary from state to state, the general steps are the same. Follow these steps to quickly and efficiently be one step closer to obtaining your license and practicing as a Nurse Practitioner.

1. NP Credentialing Process: Apply for Certification

The road to becoming a Nurse Practitioner is a long one! If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been too focused on your studies to research what exact steps to take after graduation. In order to apply for your state licensure, you must first prove your competence at taking a certification examination either through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), or through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

AANP offers exams for the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP), and the Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP).

ANCC offers exams for the Family and the Adult-Gerontology Primary as well, but also offers exams for Adult-Gero Acute NP, Pediatric NP (PNP), and Psychiatric-Mental Health NP (PMHNP).

You must create an account and apply for a certification exam within your respective specialty. The unfortunate cost of certifying with these agencies is quite high. The AANP will cost $315 for an initial certification, or $240 ($75 discount) if you are an AANP member. For the ANCC, non-members will pay $395, but discounts are available for AANP members ($340), AANP Student members ($290), and ANA members ($270).

You will need access to your previous class schedules and information, as the initial application for certification requires that you enter information about the classes you have taken. You will also need to list the names and addresses of your clinical sites, as well as the contact information of your previous preceptors.

2. Send Verification Information

The next step in the NP credentialing process is verification. Whether you apply through the AANP or the ANCC, you will have to verify that you are a student just about to graduate – or that you have already graduated. To do this, you MUST send an official transcript indicating that you have graduated from an accredited Nurse Practitioner program to the certifying bodies (AANP or ANCC). You can do this through your universities online portal. Many universities offer fast email delivery, usually for a small fee.

If you haven’t graduated yet, or if you finished school but the conferral date of your degree has not yet passed – you may still apply. You will need to send an official transcript of your work-to-date. This will allow you to sit for the exam, but you will need to resend ANOTHER official transcript AFTER your conferral date to prove that you successfully graduated.

Send your correspondence to the following:

ANCC Email: [email protected]
ANCC Mail: ANCC PO Box 8785, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8785

AANP Email: [email protected]
AANP Transcripts Email: [email protected]
AANP Mail: AANPCB, P.O. Box 12926, Austin, TX 78711

You will get weekly emails from your certifying agency updating you on your required documents. The average processing time is 3-6 weeks. For ANCC, processing time can be shortened to 5 business days using the Expedited Review Procedure but will cost an additional $200.

3. Take the Exam

After everything has been received and processed, and if you have been deemed eligible, the AANP or ANCC will send an Authorization/Eligibility to Test email. In this email, it will give you instructions on signing up for an examination date and location.

You will take the exam at a testing center – similar to the one you may have taken your NCLEX-RN at. You MUST bring 2 forms of ID, one of which must be photo ID, and the other can be a debit/credit card with a signature on the back. Make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes early.

The AANP examination has 150 questions and you will have 180 minutes to take it.
The ANCC examination has 200 questions and you will have 240 minutes to take it.

Immediately after submitting your answers, you will have to take a quick survey. After the survey, you will exit the room and the testing proctors will give you printed information. On this information will have your preliminary results – and hopefully will say “you passed!”.Nurse Practitioner: Licensure Timeline Infographic for newly graduated #NursePractitioners #NP

4. Wait for Official Certification

After taking the exam, you will have to wait for your official results. These will come in the mail, but will also update on the certification websites, so be on the lookout. This process typically takes 2-3 weeks. Once you get your official certification, you can begin your state BON application for License as a Nurse Practitioner.

5. Apply for Licensure with the State BON

This step in the Nurse Practitioner Credentialing Process is the most variable from state to state. Google “_______ BON nurse practitioner license”, and you will likely find your state’s BON section on their website. It may have the application in pdf form for you to download, or you may have to email a secure email and request an initial certification application.

Once you have the PDF, fill it out with Adobe Reader (or whatever application that works for you), or print it off and fill it out by hand. Ensure that every section is filled out correctly – as it may delay your licensure if done incorrectly. 

Requirements vary from state to state, but generally, you will need:
*Passport-Style Photo
*Filled out Application
*Copy of Birth Certificate or US Passport (Proof of citizenship)
*Fingerprints or Release to Collect previous fingerprints (Background Checks)
* Check for fingerprint release (~$20)
*Application Fee (~$100)

You also MUST send verification of your passing the certification exam. You can do this through the AANP or ANCC websites by clicking “verify”. Verification to your state BON is FREE.

There may be other various requirements for each state. Pharmacology requirements differ per state, but if you had at least 1 Pharmacology class that should suffice in most instances. If you didn’t have a specific Pharmacology class but it was within other coursework, you must have a specific integrative pharmacology form filled out. If it has been greater than 5 years since you took your Pharm course, you may have to take CEUs toward Pharmacology and submit verification. Some states, such as New Jersey, require everyone to take a certain amount of CEUs towards prescribing controlled substances (6 credits for NJ). Again, read the specific instructions on the application, and follow them exactly. This will ensure quick processing and no delays.

Your State BON may or may not require you to sign the application in front of a Notary official. If this is the case – there will be a Notary Affidavit within the application. Take the application to the courthouse, the UPS store, or another agency and get it notarized before submitting it.

If your state BON allows an online application to be submitted – fill that out as it usually offers quicker processing times. However, if your state does not have an online application or if you prefer to print it out and send it, collect everything needed and send it in a secure envelope. I prefer to send my important documents to the BON through the UPS store, but any service which offers quick delivery, tracking, and safe delivery will suffice.

6. Wait for State Licensure

This step is invariably the longest step in the NP credentialing process. Depending on the efficiency of your state’s BON, this can take a long time. General wait-time is said to be 8-12 weeks for most state BONs. However, you have to be proactive in some situations. If your state offers online verification, check online to see that your application is pending. If it has been 8 weeks, call and get an update on the status of your application.

However long it may take, once you receive your state licensure, you can apply for your DEA, NPI, and in many states your secondary controlled substance license.

7. Apply for your DEA License

Apply for your DEA license here. This will cost $731, and processing time can take 4-6 weeks. Once on the website, under Form 224, click “Mid Level Provider”, and then “Begin”. Fill out all required information and pay with debit or credit card of your choice. While this is expensive, it covers you for 3 years within your state and you may be able to get your future employer to reimburse you for it.

8. Apply for your Secondary Controlled Substance License

Many states, such as New Jersey, require a secondary Controlled substance license. Often called Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) or Controlled Substance Registration or License, this is required by just less than half of the individual states.

You may need to wait for your DEA license to be completed before applying for this. Your state BON should also have this information on their website, but you can google “_________ BON CDS application”, and Google will not lead you wrong. The cost is usually low (~$20), and the processing time is generally 2-4 weeks.

9. Apply for your NPI

The NPI, or National Provider Identifier, is a 10-digit number which identifies you to Medicare and Medicaid Services. To apply, you must fill out an application online here. Create an account, sign in, and then click “Apply for an NPI for myself”. Fill out the information correctly, and click submit.

In general, as long as the online application is filled out correctly, you will receive your NPI number within 10 days, and your application is FREE. You can actually apply for your NPI as a nurse, and once you obtain your NP license you can update it.

And THOSE are the general hoops you have to jump through throughout the NP credentialing process before officially becoming able to practice to the full extent of your education as a new Nurse Practitioner! Things may vary state-to-state, so be sure to read your state’s BON website very thoroughly.

Some jobs may let you start working sooner, getting accustomed to the work environment, the electronic medical record, and the facilities themselves – you just will not be able to see patients independently until you at least get your state licensure.

Did I forget anything? Comment below if this was helpful or if you’d like another step-by-step instructional.

Top 5 Nurse Practitioner Apps

Top 5 Nurse Practitioner Apps

Check out these Top 5 nurse practitioner apps for when you’re at clinicals or even at work! The internet can be a clinician’s best friend. With the implementation of easy-to-use apps for smartphones, evidence-based recommendations are literally at your finger-tips. Not only will this information be helpful in a pinch, but you can also rest assured you are giving your patients accurate and updated information. 

1. The Best Nurse Practitioner App: UpToDate  

UpToDate Medical Resource App IconUpToDate, according to its website, is an “evidence-based, physician-authored clinical decision support resource” for use in “point-of-care” decisions. Basically, experts in their respective fields write in-depth recommendations for every disease or complaint you can think of. Think of it as a comprehensive textbook regarding all things medical in the palm of your hands or on the screen of your computer. This can be an extremely useful nurse practitioner app to utilize!

UpToDate guarantees evidence-based recommendations that are quite literally up-to-date. Each article contains relevant figures, tables, and pictures to aid in understanding. In addition, Continued Medical Education (CME) hours can be turned in to various certifying bodies (AANP, AMA, ACEP, etc).

While UpToDate is an invaluable resource, there are some negative drawbacks. This requires a monthly subscription, and you may be looking at paying more than $50/month. An additional $6/month will be added if you want to use the UpToDate app on your smartphone. However, many hospitals offer this service free-of-charge, as well as many universities. Additionally, if you are an Advanced Practice Provider or Physician, many places of employment will be willing to pay for this service. If you are a student or medical resident, there is a significant discount applied which ends up costing $19/month ($25/month with smartphone app access).

Additionally, some say that UpToDate has a layout that is verbose and sometimes difficult to follow. This may lead to trouble using it on-the-fly while at clinical or work. However, from personal experience – once you get used to the layout, the speed and effectiveness of the service increase dramatically.

Regardless of price, UpToDate is WORTH it, and once you use it you won’t regret it! This nurse practitioner app can be used on the fly for a quick refresher or can be studied in-depth for a complete understanding.

2. Epocrates  

Epocrates Medical Resource App IconHailed as the #1 Medical Reference App, Epocrates has set itself apart as the go-to nurse practitioner app that over 1 million healthcare providers are using. This app offers a wide array of services from Updated Guidelines, Disease Overview, Medication Interactions, Drug information, Differential Diagnosis tools and much, much more. Best of all, Epocrates has a free version. While somewhat limited, the free version is still very useful for nurse practitioners, other clinicians, and nurses alike.

Epocrates free version does include access to their drug information and clinical practice guidelines – which are very useful in the clinical setting. Additionally, the free version offers medicine interaction checks, as well as a few other features which I have found to be non-useful. The Premium option is MUCH more inclusive and offers a wide variety of useful tools. The Premium option is available for $174.99/year, which is less than $15/month. This version offers all of the features included with the free version but adds many more. This includes it’s most useful section, the Disease Information (see below). Additionally, it offers ICD-10 code lookups, CPT codes, Lab information, and Infectious Disease treatments.

With all the features available in the Epocrates app, the most useful feature is the Disease Information. With a simple query, you have access to the disease highlights, treatment options and approach, history and physical exam findings, differential diagnosis, complications, and follow-up information. As you can tell, this pretty much does your job for you – you just need to know where to look. I have found this feature to be useful during clinical – where I used it almost every day.

If you are a student in a medical field (such as a nurse practitioner), university faculty, or a medical resident/fellow, then you can obtain the premium version at a discount of only $49.99.

Epocrates is sleek, offers up-to-date information, and is easy to access on-the-go. While not in as much depth as UpToDate, it offers quick easy-to-access information which makes referencing medical information at clinical or work to be effortless. Many users find it much easier to navigate and find what they are looking for. Additionally, Epocrates is offered MUCH cheaper and just a fraction of the cost of UpToDate – however, MUST be bought for a full year as opposed to monthly payments.

3. MedScape  

Medscape Medical Resource App IconMedscape is very similar to UpToDate and Epocrates in the information it offers – primarily disease and drug information. However, the big difference is in pricing. Medscape is 100% FREE. However, the information provided is HUGELY beneficial to the medical professional in every medical setting.

Medscape has in-depth information for most medical conditions, in-depth drug information and interactions, pill identifiers, various useful calculators, and more. However, something that sets Medscape apart is its Procedures information.

The Procedures feature offers step-by-step techniques for every procedure imaginable, as well as important information regarding anesthesia, complications, and postoperative care. This is VERY useful to students who will be doing procedures in clinical, as well as medical professionals who need to brush up.

Additionally, Medscape offers a fun interactive diagnostics feature that lets you test your skills at interpreting X-rays, CT scans, and the like! Similar to UpToDate, learning on Medscape can be beneficial too for those who need to accrue CEUs for renewing their licensure.

Unlike UpToDate, Medscape does not seem to offer as many tables and figures, although it does offer many pertinent images. Additionally, I have found the Medscape app to be somewhat harder to navigate and absorb information from than both Epocrates and UpToDate.

Best of all, Medscape is 100% free. In order to access some of the features, a free account needs to be created with a valid email address. Overall – Medscape is underrated and underused – but a wonderful nurse practitioner app to use!

4. Merck Manual  

Merck Manual Medical Resource App IconThe Merck Manual, originally published in 1899, is quoted as the world’s best selling textbook. Merck & Co has developed an app which gives the wide information from the Merck Manual at your fingertips.

In-depth, expansive, and searchable, Merck Manual offers innumerable information on various diseases and conditions – breaking down pathophysiology, etiology, evaluation, treatment, essentials, and key points. Merck also offers videos on various procedures and disease overviews. While not all of these videos are made by Merck, they are easy to find and watch within the app.

Similar to the others, Merck Manual does offer some clinical calculators which can be useful in the clinical practice setting. Also like Medscape and FP notebook, Merck manual is 100% Free – No registration or subscription required, and no ads.

5. FP Notebook  

FP Notebook Medical Resource App IconThe Family Practice Notebook, or FP Notebook, is a point of care resource which began in 1995, and now has expanded to 31 specialties and more than 6100 linked interlinked topics. Like the others listed above, FP Notebook has searchable disease information. However, it is limited to just that.

Although FP notebook does NOT offer extra tools, features, or drug information, it does offer easy-to-follow notes on many disease processes. FP Notebook reads more like notes that you would take in class with numbers and sub-numbers. This adds the benefit of finding the relevant information that is useful for clinical practice and takes away the added verbiage – making navigating to the essential information quickly and painlessly.

While FP Notebook does seem to give updated information – it is not prided on delivering the utmost updated information. However, like Medscape, it is 100% free to download.

And there you have it – the top 5 nurse practitioner apps for the working NP! Please leave a comment down below if there are any apps that we missed that you find useful!

 

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