Nurse family practitioners perform many of the same roles as doctors, including diagnosing illnesses, educating patients about making healthier choices, and treating minor conditions. Unlike doctors, however, they are not licensed by the local governing body’s medical board, but rather through the nursing board. If you want to become a nurse family practitioner, you will need at least a Master’s degree in nursing and several years of experience as a registered nurse.
The first step to become a family nurse practitioner is getting a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. While a two-year associate degree in nursing can also be a good start, more and more hospitals are looking for nurses with a four-year degree. It is also advisable to take your basic education classes separately from your nursing classes, as the nursing classes are extremely demanding. Most programs require specific prerequisites, including developmental psychology and microbiology, so check with an adviser to determine the right classes for your program.
Once you have your Bachelor’s degree, the next step to become a family nurse practitioner is gaining experience in the nursing field. You will need to take a test issued by your state or regional board of nursing to become registered. Keep in mind that many family nurse practitioners specialize in a particular field of nursing, such as public health or maternity. Taking the time to gain experience between your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program will help you decide which specialty you prefer.
After gaining some experience working as a registered nurse, the next step is to work on the Master’s degree required to become a family nurse practitioner. Look into your schooling options both locally and online, through accredited distance learning universities, to find the best fit. Find out if your prior experience and education qualifies you for an accelerated Master’s degree program, and if the school offers paid clinical internships. While it is possible to start your Master’s degree immediately after getting your Bachelor’s degree, keep in mind that when you enter the nursing industry to become a family nurse practitioner, you may be competing with nurses who have more experience in the field.
While a Master’s degree is often enough to allow you to become a family nurse practitioner, you may also want to consider obtaining a Doctorate degree to broaden your career options and increase your annual salary. Once you have completed your education, you will need to take another test before you can start to work as a nurse family practitioner. After that, you can apply for positions, or, if your state or region allows, open your own practice.