Nurse practitioner experiences?
January 6, 2005 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Are you a nurse practitioner? Know one? My fiancee is in the very beginning steps to becoming one and we'd like to hear from you: what's your day like? Do you enjoy it? And-- do you need to become an RN before becoming a nurse practitioner? We've heard different opinions on it. Any and all information/opinions appreciated!
posted by xmutex to Education (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My wife is in UCSF's MEPN program. Not a NP/CNS yet, but I might be able to forward along any questions on the application/student process.

One question I can answer: yes, you do need to be an RN to be an NP...

"The advanced practice nurse is a registered nurse with graduate academic preparation and advanced clinical skills which qualify her/him as an expert in a defined area of knowledge and practice."

There's one major caveat about encouraging your fiancee to be an NP; prepare to be the guinea pig of many medical assesments as she goes through skills training.
posted by Loser at 9:21 AM on January 6, 2005

You need an Master of Science in Nursing degree, and then additional education. The legal boundaries for a NP's practice are set by law, and the NP has an MD "backup" in all cases... even if the backup is pretty far away (ie remote locations).

It's actually easier academically to become a Medical Assistant (sort of like a mini-doc).

It's a very satisfying profession (NP), I'm told by those i know who have the title. and... what Loser said.. tell her to be prepared for multiple palpations.
posted by reflecked at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2005

Many places offer an LPN->NP route, and once you have your masters (an NP definitely has at least a masters) you are usually qualified to take your RN exams.

To wit: You don't NEED to be an RN before you become an NP, because they'll get you to that point during your long as you're in the right course (like the aforementioned LPN->NP route I mentioned).

So, an LPN is not an RN. AN RN is a registered nurse, and has taken state exams that show she's qualified to be in nursing. An LPN is a Licenced Practical Nurse which means that she's gone to school, potentially for just as long as an RN, and has taken exams to show she is qualified to be helping out a doctor. In order one can think of the relationship like this:


Now, many RNs have a bachelors degree....that'd be a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing). Every NP I know of has an MSN, like reflecked mentions, but I'm not 100% positive that it's necessary. I would imagine some type of graduate work, of course....but I'm not sure the degree needs to be an "MSN".

Further more, an NP can take post-graduate work as well, and become an ARNP, advanced registered nurse practitioner, and I don't know the difference between what they can do and what standard NPs can do.

Lastly, you can also go get your PhD in nursing, which qualifies you to research, teach and manage. One of the nursing PhDs I work with is responsible for our home health research and development, and the other is responsible for our clinical compliance.
posted by taumeson at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2005

I have known & worked with many NPs -- and found them to be almost universally compassionate, knowledgeable, and effective with routine healthcare. As best as I can ascertain, they all seem to truly enjoy their work.

The other para-professional route is the Physician's Assistant (what reflecked called a "Medical Assistant," which is actually something very different). Physicians' Assistants (routinely called PAs) act very much like physicians and nurse-practitioners: they evaluate, diagnose, treat, prescribe, etc. Specialty PAs exist in Pediatrics, Emergency Med, Orthopedics, etc. Most NPs specialize in Women's Health, but I believe there are a few other specialties for them, too.

FWIW and YMMV: I've asked several physicians about their estimation of both NPs and PAs, and most of them seem to have a bit more confidence in PAs. Not sure why.

Finally, one funny: in the medical community, male nurses are often referred to as "ball-bearing nurses."

Best wishes to you & your fiance!
posted by davidmsc at 9:24 PM on January 6, 2005

The P.A.'s (that's a USian title; Medical Assistant here, afaik) inspire confidence from the MD's because a large chunk of their clinical training is done personally and individually under the wings of a practicing MD.

Taumeson's description is very good. I hope to be a Doctor of Nursing someday, with a focus on research.

I'm with davidmsc: Best wishes to the both of you.
posted by reflecked at 3:29 AM on January 7, 2005

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