How to Get Started on Your Nurse Practitioner Journey

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Nursing is a noble profession, and the more you know as a nurse, the better equipped you are to care for your patients and further your career. If you are a registered nurse who is looking to advance your career and become a nurse practitioner, how can you begin that journey? Here are some tips that will put you at the starting line.

Consider a Specialty

Nurse Practitioner with Infant

Image via Flickr by timefornurses

As a registered nurse, you probably already have at least one area of expertise, depending on where you work and the patients that you care for. Do you enjoy working in that area of medicine? If so, you could become a nurse practitioner with a specialization in that area. On the other hand, if you want to broaden your  perspective, try to gain clinical experience in other areas. Knowing what you love to do will help you choose your courses in school. NP Central lists some common types of nurse practitioners, including:

  • Family nurse practitioners
  • Adult-Gerontology nurse practitioners
  • Pediatric nurse practitioners
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners
  • Geriatric nurse practitioners
  • Women’s health nurse practitioners
  • Acute care nurse practitioners
  • Certified nurse midwives
  • Occupational health nurse practitioners


Choose a School and Degree Program

Once you know what nurse practitioner specialization you are interested in, you are ready to start researching schools and programs. You will need to consider if you would like to complete your program online or on-campus. Many registered nurses find it easier to enroll in an online program. Choosing an online nurse practitioner program will not restrict your career path in any way; these are high-quality programs and can equip you for a successful career. Here are a few degrees that you can pursue online that can result in advancing to becoming a nurse practitioner:

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Post-Master Nurse Practitioner Certificate


If you have a master’s degree in nursing but want to try a different specialty, your top choice might be the Post-Master Nurse Practitioner Certificate. Finding the program that is right for you depends on your current level of education, interests, and schedule.

Get Your Financial and Personal Affairs in Order

Many schools offer financial aid, and it is a good idea to look into it even if you’re not certain when you want to start your program. Also, consider the state of your finances as they stand right now. Some courses are intensive and may require that you reduce your load at work.

Also, take a look at your personal circumstances. How is your physical and emotional stamina? Talk with people who know you well and get feedback and ideas for how you can adjust your circumstances to ensure you receive the most out of your schooling. The rigors of nursing school can test you, and you want to make sure that you’re up to the challenge.

Furthering your career as a nurse isn’t easy, but the hard work is well worth the reward. Becoming a nurse practitioner will give you greater opportunities for personal fulfillment in the workplace, and you can earn bigger paychecks, too.