EP 224: Becoming a NP

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Are you a registered nurse (RN) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) looking to take your career to the next level? If so, becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) might be the ideal path for you. In this blog post, we will explore the journey of becoming a nurse practitioner, comparing the different routes available, discussing the financial aspects, and highlighting the increased autonomy that comes with this advanced nursing role.

Exploring Specializations: Different Types of Nurse Practitioners

As a nurse practitioner, you have the opportunity to specialize in various areas of healthcare, tailoring your expertise to specific patient populations and healthcare needs. Here are some common types of nurse practitioners:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): 
      1. FNPs provide primary care across the lifespan, from newborns to older adults. They diagnose and treat common acute and chronic conditions, offer preventive care, perform routine check-ups, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to promote overall wellness.
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP): 
      1. AGNPs specialize in the care of adults, including young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults. They manage acute and chronic illnesses, conduct health assessments, and focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and management of age-related conditions.
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP): 
      1. PNPs focus on delivering primary care to infants, children, and adolescents. They provide well-child exams, immunizations, and developmental screenings, and manage common pediatric illnesses and conditions. PNPs play a crucial role in promoting children’s health and supporting families.
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP): 
      1. PMHNPs specialize in mental health and psychiatric care across the lifespan. They assess, diagnose, and manage mental health disorders, prescribe medications, provide therapy, and collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to promote mental well-being.
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP): 
      1. WHNPs specialize in women’s health, including reproductive health, gynecological care, prenatal care, family planning, and menopausal management. They conduct screenings, offer health education, and provide comprehensive care to women throughout their lifespan.
  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP): 
      1. ACNPs are trained to manage acute and critical illnesses in various settings, such as emergency departments, intensive care units, and specialty clinics. They provide complex care, perform procedures, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals in emergency situations.
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP): 
      1. NNPs specialize in the care of newborn infants, particularly those who are premature, critically ill, or have complex medical conditions. They provide comprehensive care, perform procedures, monitor growth and development, and support families in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and other neonatal settings.
  • Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP): 
    1. GNPs focus on the specialized needs of older adults, including managing chronic illnesses, promoting healthy aging, and addressing age-related issues. They work in various settings, including long-term care facilities, assisted living centers, and geriatric clinics.

Different Routes to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Aspiring nurse practitioners have multiple paths to choose from based on their prior education and experience. The two main routes are:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): This is the most common and traditional path for becoming an NP. It typically requires two to three years of additional education beyond the BSN degree. MSN programs offer specialized tracks such as Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), and more.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): This is a terminal degree in nursing and provides the highest level of education for NPs. DNP programs typically take three to four years to complete, with an emphasis on advanced clinical skills, leadership, and evidence-based practice.

Financial Considerations

When considering the financial aspect of becoming a nurse practitioner, it’s important to factor in the cost of tuition and the potential pay increase. The average tuition for an MSN program ranges from $20,000 to $60,000, depending on the institution and location. On the other hand, DNP programs can cost between $30,000 and $100,000. While these figures may seem significant, it’s essential to remember that many nurses qualify for financial aid, scholarships, and loan forgiveness programs.

Pay Increase and Professional Growth

One of the most compelling reasons to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner is the potential for a substantial pay increase compared to an RN with a BSN. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for nurse practitioners was between $115,890 and $135,677 significantly higher than the median wage for registered nurses. Moreover, NPs have greater opportunities for advancement, specialization, and leadership roles within the healthcare system.

Autonomy and Expanded Scope of Practice

Transitioning from an RN to an NP brings an increase in autonomy and a broader scope of practice. NPs are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and provide comprehensive care. While they work collaboratively with physicians, NPs often have more independence in managing patient care, particularly in primary care settings and underserved areas where access to physicians may be limited.

Duration of Schooling

The length of time required to become a nurse practitioner depends on the educational path chosen. MSN programs generally range from two to three years, while DNP programs typically require three to four years. It’s important to consider personal circumstances, such as work commitments and family obligations, when deciding which path is most feasible.


Becoming a nurse practitioner is an excellent way to advance your nursing career, enhance your earning potential, and gain more autonomy in patient care. Whether you choose the MSN or DNP route, embarking on this journey will provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to make a lasting impact on the lives of your patients. By exploring the various types of nurse practitioners, you can find a specialized area that aligns with your passion and contributes to the health and well-being of individuals and communities. So, if you’re ready to embrace the challenges of an advanced nursing role and make a significant difference in the world of healthcare, becoming a nurse practitioner may be the right path for you.

Remember, your journey as a nurse practitioner is not just a step forward; it’s a leap toward making a significant difference in the lives of individuals and communities.

Watch the full episode: https://youtu.be/Ad4ffRlvIac

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