Nursing is a great and fascinating career choice that lot of people would really want to go into. The nursing profession is quite broad and offers a lot of options for specialization. Also, the salary that nurses receive is quite juicy. In the United States of America, registered nurses earn $67,930 on a yearly basis. This breaks down to an average wage of $32.66 per hour, $1,306 per week and a monthly income of $5,660. The salary that nurses receive is well above the U.S national average which is 45,790. As a nurse, you get to help save countless number of lives on a daily basis and that is really cool.

Nursing is a popular profession within the medical field and it is projected that the demand for nurses will increase tremendously over the next couple of decades. This projection was made based on the fact that the population of the aged is on the increase due to better standards of living, wider availability of healthcare to even to most remote places and also because a lot of the current registered nurses are nearing retirement. So with all these, it is easy to see why a lot of people are interested in becoming nurses. Presently, there are over 2.7 million nurses in the US today with a huge chunk of them working in hospitals. They can also work in schools, clinics, some health care settings, military, governmental organization and rehabilitation centers.

Can you become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree?

Well, to say the truth, no. You can’t become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree or BSN. Here are reasons why this is not possible.

Nurse practitioners usually have to work on sensitive and complex medical cases, and can serve on many of the same cases that primary care physicians do, which requires more extensive medical knowledge. In addition, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) careers, which also include nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife and clinical nurse specialist, all require at least a master’s degree in nursing.

Here are some of the duties that a nurse practitioner is required to perform on the job:

  • Provide basic primary or specialty care to individuals and families
  • Diagnose patients through physical examination and diagnostic tests
  • Analyze test results and determine appropriate steps for treatment
  • Assess symptoms and prescribe medications
  • Set up care plans for patients and explain what to do at home to help treatment succeed
  • Treat some acute as well as chronic illnesses, including bronchitis, colds, flu, diabetes and obesity

Nurses who have many years’ experience under their belt are still required to go back to school and get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree before they can take on the responsibilities required of a nurse practitioner or other APRN. The intricacies that are involved in the practice and the medical skill that nurse practitioners should have can only be gotten in an educational setting. Even though job experience is of paramount importance when it comes to performing standard nursing duties, acquiring all the new knowledge necessary for a nurse practitioner career demands a focused learning environment.

How to become a nurse practitioner

The first step towards starting a career as a nurse practitioner involves becoming certified as a licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) or a registered nurse (RN). You can do this with a bachelor’s or associate degree from a two- or four-year college. You can also get it from some hospitals and other clinical settings that operate approved, non-university nursing programs too.

After you have become an entry level nurse, you can apply to an MSN program that offers your chosen advance practice specialty. These types of programs can take about two years of full time study (3-4 semesters). However, there are still part time and online degree programs that are available for students who wish to continue their career while still working.

The length and intensity of the MSN programs can differ depending on a student’s initial training. It goes without saying that candidates who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing will have to take fewer courses when compared to those who became nurses through an associate degree or nursing diploma program.

Ajaero Tony Martins