Post-BSN Training Options: Nurse Practitioners | When working in the nursing industry, you will know that there are always opportunities for development and career advancement. Once you have completed your BSN and are a practicing RN, there are still many courses and qualifications that you can gain to boost your nursing career and continue toward your dream job. Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) is a popular next step for many RNs, as it gives you the opportunity to focus on a specific area of nursing, such as mental health or family practice. Studying online BSN to NP programs can give you the skills and experience required to work in these advanced practice nursing roles, while also giving you the flexibility to continue in your current role while you are studying.
What are the NP programs?
The online BSN to NP programs are designed for practicing RNs who need a flexible study option that allows them to study alongside their current nursing role. The programs are BSN to MSN/NP courses, and take 24-30 months to complete. The duration of each program varies depending on which pathway you choose.
The pathways are as follows:
- Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner degree: 28 months to complete
- Family nurse practitioner degree: 30 months to complete
- Pediatric nurse practitioner degree: 28 months to complete
- Adult-gerontology, primary care, nurse practitioner degree: 24 months to complete
There are various courses in each pathway, such as theoretical perspectives for advanced practice and moral and ethical decision-making, and each course takes seven weeks to complete. To make the programs as flexible as possible, you can complete each course one at a time, with a one-week break in between each course. Furthermore, there are numerous entry criteria to meet to ensure that you are ready for the course, including:
- 3.0 GPA
- Unrestricted and unencumbered current nursing license
- BSN degree from a regionally accredited institution or nursing program
It is important to make sure that you are eligible for the online BSN to NP programs that you want to study, as they are advanced nursing roles and therefore require a higher level of experience, qualification, and skill. In order to become an NP, you will first need to complete your BSN degree and the licensing exams, which allow you to practice as a registered nurse. There are many different types of nurses, such as:
- Registered nurses
- Nurse practitioners
- Intensive care unit registered nurses
- Emergency room nurse
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Radiology nurse
- School nurse
- Neonatal intensive care unit nurse
The qualifications and experience necessary for these different nursing positions varies, and it is important to think ahead and plan for the type of nursing career you would like. It is also important to experience various types of nursing to understand where your passions and strengths lie, as this can help inform your choices when it comes to considering online BSN to NP programs.
Is it for you?
The online BSN to NP programsare for those who already hold a BSN and are practicing as an RN. If you are already a practicing RN you will be aware of the personal and physical requirements of working in nursing. There are numerous personal characteristics that make a great nurse, in addition to the vast medical knowledge you will have. The online BSN to NP programs will help you strengthen these skills further, and teach you how to apply them to new situations that you may face as an NP. These skills include:
This includes both physical and emotional stamina. Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet, and lifting and moving machinery, equipment, and patients, and therefore physical stamina is important to keep you safe and to make sure that you can complete your jobs properly. Emotional stamina helps you create healthy boundaries, especially in a role that can be emotional and stressful, and helps lower the risk of issues such as compassion fatigue and burnout.
This is feeling sympathy combined with the need to fix whatever is causing someone pain or discomfort, and is a driving force behind many people’s decision to work in healthcare. Compassion fatigue occurs when your emotional energy becomes drained due to dealing with the pain of others.
This is the ability to place yourself in the shoes of others, in order to help understand their situation and their feelings. As a nurse, it is unlikely that you will have first-hand experience of every situation that you are presented with, therefore you will need to use empathy to connect with your patients and make them feel calmer and more comfortable.
This is the ability to look objectively at a situation, and make a judgement based on your observations. Nursing is rarely black and white, and sometimes there will be multiple possible outcomes. You will need to efficiently make decisions and consult your vast knowledge base in order to reach the more suitable conclusion for the patient, often in pressurized, time-sensitive situations.
Adaptability and willingness to learn
The medical industry is always changing and evolving, with new ideas, techniques, and technologies being created. As a nurse you will need to be willing and able to constantly update your knowledge, regardless of how long you have been a nurse and your position.
A large part of the work of an NP is education, whether this is educating patients, staff, or families. Communication involves more than just speaking—it also includes the ability to listen to people and observe non-verbal cues such as body language. You will be communicating with many different people, who may not have the same level of medical training and knowledge as you, but you still need to effectively and efficiently convey medical information to them. It is important to know how and when to adapt your communication techniques in order to suit the situation that you are in.
NPs often work as part of a larger, multidisciplinary team, even though in some states they can work independently. You may also be working as a consultant or liaison, and therefore teamwork is essential in any NP role. You need to be able to collaborate with the other people involved with the patient, in order to come to the best conclusions and to keep the best interests of the patient at the forefront of your work.
There are so many skills that make a great nurse, and these can be developed in many different ways. You will likely already have them, and just need to know how to strengthen them or apply them to your work.
What are the career outcomes?
Once you have chosen your pathway in terms of the online BSN to NP programs, you will be studying to work in one of the following roles:
- Family nurse practitioner
- Pediatric nurse practitioner
- Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
- Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, primary care
NPs have many differences to RNs. NPs are mid-level practitioners who specialize in a certain field of nursing. They can perform many of the clinical and diagnostic functions of doctors, without being trained as one, and this makes them nonphysician clinicians. In some states, NPs have more autonomy and can practice independently, without the supervision of a physician. The specific tasks they have vary depending on the role, but general responsibilities of an NP can include making treatment plans, assessments and diagnoses, prescribing and managing medication, managing patient care, and educating patients, caregivers, and family members.
Why study online BSN to NP programs?
Online BSN to NP programs are taught through blended learning, which is a combination of digital and in-person teaching methods. This is a great idea for those who want the flexibility of an online course, but need the practical elements to practice your nursing skills and techniques. Blended learning gives you more control over your learning location and pace, as well as your schedule. This makes it perfect to be studied alongside your job. Other benefits of online learning include:
Your local university may not offer the courses, subjects, or flexible studying options that you need in order to advance your career, which can cause delays. It can also mean that you have to study another subject, which can be a waste of time and money, or you may choose not to study at all. When you learn online, your physical location is less of a barrier, as most of the studying is done remotely. This means you can study at home, or from a location that is more convenient for you. You don’t have to commute to classes every day, which also saves time and money.
Studying at any level can be expensive, especially at master’s level. Costs that students are faced with include rent, travel, living expenses, tuition fees, and educational materials, and the financial element of studying can be a large factor as to why people may not choose to pursue further education, especially if they already have a job and a degree. When you study online BSN to NP programs you may be able to save money during your studies. For example, the tuition fees for online courses can be cheaper than in-person degrees and your university may be able to offer financial support. You can also work alongside your course, which means you can continue to earn money. Additionally, learning mostly at home means that you don’t have to worry about as much about travel and accommodation costs.
When you study online BSN to NP programs, you will receive training, education, and opportunities in the technical elements of your chosen specialism, as well as guidance as to how to apply your personal skills. You will also have the opportunity to strengthen your soft skills. These are non-technical skills that are transferrable and sought after by employers. They help you to stand out in the workplace, look great on your resumé, and show that you are willing and able to work as part of a team or independently.
Soft skills include time management, problem solving, creativity, conflict resolution, adaptability, and self-motivation, and many are particularly relevant in nursing. When you are studying online you will be able to gain practical examples to give to employers in an interview, of times when you have used these skills. For example, when completing your program alongside your job, you will have to be incredibly organized to ensure that you can complete your studies and job to a high level. Nurses also have to be very organized, as they often have multiple patients to treat at the same time, and each needs to receive the same high level of care and support.
Online learning provides a high level of flexibility and control over many aspects of the learning experience. This makes it an ideal study method for those who cannot commit to full-time, in-person education, for whatever reason. You will still receive a high level of education, but in way that works more around your life and various requirements. The ability to set your learning pace is beneficial as it can make the experience feel less pressurized, as well as allowing you to take time on the areas you struggle with, ask questions when you need to, and schedule your study to fit around the rest of your life.
Online learning can help make you a more independent learner, which is a valuable life skill to have. You will be able to develop productive studying habits that you can use again and again, and you will also be able to apply them to new situations in the future each time you have to learn new information.
Studying online BSN to NP programs will help you develop both professionally and personally. There are plenty of opportunities to advance your career within the nursing industry, and these programs are a brilliant way to begin focusing your work on your chosen specialism. They provide a high level of education and training that will prepare you for these advanced nursing roles. There are plenty of benefits to furthering your education. It can increase your job opportunities and earning potential, as well as give you the chance to delve deeper into a subject that you are truly passionate about.