To become an emergency nurse practitioner, you will likely have to start out by earning a high school diploma or equivalent credential before going on to become a registered nurse. Since a bachelor's degree is required for enrolling in an advanced nurse education program, you will typically do well to secure a bachelor's degree in nursing first and then seek nurse licensing. After gaining a couple of years of experience in emergency nursing, you will then have to return to school to earn a master's degree in nursing. Finally, you'll usually have to seek nurse practitioner licensing or certification to work in this field.
The first step in becoming an emergency nurse practitioner is fulfilling educational prerequisites. These usually include earning a high school diploma or securing a jurisdiction-approved equivalent, such as a general educational development (GED) diploma. With one of these credentials secured, your next step is typically becoming a registered nurse, which involves completing a jurisdiction-accepted nurse education program and passing a licensing examination.
Most jurisdictions allow individuals to choose between several different paths to become registered nurses. For example, you may have the choice of enrolling in a one-year-long nurse education program or a two-year long nursing program via a community college. Most jurisdictions also offer the option of earning a bachelor's degree in nursing when you want to become a registered nurse. If you are planning to become an emergency nurse practitioner, you may do well to choose a bachelor's degree program since you will eventually need this degree. If you've already become a registered nurse via another type of nursing program, however, you will likely have to go back to school to earn a bachelor's degree before you can proceed.
You will typically need nurse licensing and some experience before you take the next step to become an emergency nurse practitioner. Once you've finished an accredited nurse education program, you will likely have to take a standardized exam to secure the title of registered nurse. Then, you may have to gain at least a year or two of experience as a nurse before you seek the additional education required to become an emergency nurse practitioner. Working in the emergency room of a hospital or in an urgent care center may help prepare you for this career.
Once you've gained some experience as a nurse, your next step is returning to school to earn a master's degree in nursing, with a specialty in emergency care. Such a program will usually last for about two to three years and qualify you to become an emergency nurse practitioner. After completing this program, you will usually have to pass your jurisdiction's nurse practitioner licensing or certification exam before you can begin work in this position.