Can You Become a Nurse Practitioner Without a Nursing Degree?
Health care careers are on the rise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the job market needs qualified candidates to step up and fill these critical career roles as the industry continues to expand. Opportunities for nurses in particular are booming -- more than 710,000 new registered nursing jobs are expected to open up between 2010 and 2020, a growth rate of 26 percent (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012) -- and career seekers are naturally curious about the multiple levels of the nursing profession.
Questions about nursing degrees and training have been at the forefront of future nurses' minds, and one question in particular seems to keep popping up. We've done the research, and we're here to settle it once and for all.
Can you become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree?
Short answer? No. It's impossible to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree. Here's some reasoning, to help give context to the facts.
Nurse practitioners occasionally take on sensitive or complex medical cases and can serve on many of the same cases that primary care physicians do, which requires more extensive medical knowledge than vocational nurse training or registered nurse certification can provide. 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 (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).
Here's a list of some of the duties that a nurse practitioner might 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 acute as well as chronic illnesses, including bronchitis, colds, flu, diabetes and obesity
Even nurses with many years of experience on the job have to go back to school and earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree before they can take on the responsibilities required of a nurse practitioner or other APRN. The depth and breadth of the medical skills expected of a nurse practitioner can only be learned in an educational setting. While job experience is invaluable 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
Becoming certified as a licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) or a registered nurse (RN) is the first step toward a nurse practitioner career. This can be done with a bachelor's or associate degree from a two- or four-year college. Some hospitals and other clinical settings operate approved, non-university nursing programs as well (BLS.gov, 2012).
After getting your foot in the door as an entry-level nurse, you can apply to an MSN program that offers your chosen advance practice specialty. These programs typically take 3-4 semesters (about two years) of full-time study, but students who continue their career while earning their master's degree in nursing may find part-time and online degree programs that allow them to work around their professional schedule.
The length and intensity of MSN programs often depend on a student's prior training. Candidates who earned a bachelor's degree in nursing will have fewer required courses than those who became nurses through an associate degree or nursing diploma program.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Registered Nurses," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, March 29, 2012, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-4
American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), 2013, http://www.aanp.org/education
There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
- M.S. in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
- M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)
- M.S. in Nursing: Public Health (Bridge)
With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.
Sacred Heart University Online
Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
- Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Family Nurse Practitioner (PGC)
- Specialization in Nursing Informatics (RN to MSN)
Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
Take control of your future with education and innovation. Loyola University New Orleans offers three CCNE-accredited online nursing programs—RN-BSN, MSN, and DNP—as well as a variety of career concentrations so you can align your education to your professional interests.
- New Orleans
- New Orleans
Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.
Founded in 1856, Seton Hall is one of the country’s leading Catholic universities.
About Brightwood College
Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.
- San Diego
- San Diego