Field of Study: Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioner programs prepare registered nurses to give primary care to family members of all ages. Students learn to evaluate and treat health needs of patients. They also learn to refer patients to doctors as needed.
If you've ever seriously thought about becoming a doctor, you know that it takes many years of study and training. For many people, that is a significant roadblock. However, some of those people choose to become nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are primary caregivers (like a family doctor). They can perform medical exams, prescribe medications, and educate patients about disease prevention and healthy living. Studies show that nurse practitioners provide high-quality, cost-effective care. In fact, more and more, people are choosing to see nurse practitioners as their primary health care provider.
Studying to become a nurse practitioner means you take courses in advanced theories of nursing, physiology, diagnosis and treatment, and disease prevention. You also take courses in research methods, statistics, ethics, and cultural diversity. In addition, you learn how to practice medicine in different kinds of health care systems, such as social welfare agencies and managed care companies. Furthermore, most nurse practitioners choose to specialize. You can focus on caring for adults, families, women, older people, or children.
Nurse practitioner programs also emphasize practical training. You learn how to take patient histories, assess risk factors, promote healthy living, treat illnesses and disorders, perform physical exams, and communicate effectively with patients. You also learn how to use specialized medical software and diagnostic equipment. In addition, you learn different ways to treat patients, including traditional medical approaches and natural methods.
You can become a nurse practitioner by completing a two-year master's degree program. In some cases, if you already have a master's degree in nursing, you can enroll in a certificate program, which usually takes one year to complete. Several schools also offer doctoral degrees in nursing. Most people with a Ph.D. become professors, researchers, or administrators.
As a nurse practitioner, you can practice in hospitals, schools, or clinics. You can work for a larger medical group or establish your own private practice.