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How to become a Nurse Practitioner
A licensed nurse practitioner (NP) must first complete the registered nurse (RN) education and training prerequisites. Candidates in the RN program meet their requirements through an associate's degree in nursing (ASN), a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a diploma program. Direct patient care for acutely or chronically ill patients also needs to be completed. ASNs, offered by community and junior colleges, usually take two years. BSN programs, offered by colleges and universities, take four years. Candidates then need to successfully pass a national examination to receive their license, the NCLEX-RN.
Most states require that RNs looking to become an NP obtain their master's degree. RNs partake in a mandatory, state-approved advanced nursing education program for specialty training and certification. Advanced nursing programs include training in: family practice; adult health; acute care; or one of the four advanced nursing specialties, including clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners. Degrees are granted by universities that grant master's of science in nursing (MSN) degrees, now the minimum degree required, or universities that grant doctorates in nursing. Some ASN programs do a "bridge program" where most of the bachelor's degree is completed while completing the master's requirements.
NPs can apply for national certification from one of several professional nursing organizations, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) before or after receiving state licensing. The ANCC offers certification but not the ANA directly. Some NPs pursue certification in a specialty.
What does a Nurse Practitioner do?
An NP is trained in diagnosis and management of common and complex medical conditions. The core philosophy is individualized care and focus on patients' conditions as well as the effects of illness on patients and their families. NPs provide a broad range of health care services and act as a "point of entry" health care provider for patients within a designated scope of practice. The profession is state regulated, making NP care varied from state to state.
Scope of practice may include: acute and chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes and high blood pressure); comprehensive history taking and physical exams; diagnostic studies interpretation (e.g., routine lab tests, bone x-rays, and EKGs); the prescribing of any needed physical therapy and rehabilitation; the ordering of tests and therapies for patients; prenatal care and family planning services; the provision of well-child care and screening/immunizations; primary and specialty care services; health-care maintenance for adults (e.g., annual physicals); acute and critical patient care; minor surgeries and procedures, generally with supervision and further training (e.g., dermatological biopsies, suturing, and casting); and coun...
How to become a Nursing Aide
A high school diploma or equivalent is all that is necessary for entry as a nurse's aide. High schools, nurse-care facilities, vocational-technical schools, and community colleges may offer the following courses for aides: body mechanics, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control, communication skills, resident rights, and personal care skills, such as how to help patients to bathe, eat, and groom themselves. Previous experience may be needed from hospitals. Employers may provide classroom training while others can rely exclusively on informal on-the-job instruction. This training period may last from just several days to a few months. Attending lectures, workshops, and in-service training are other options that can be considered for this field.
The federal requirements for nurse aides working in nursing care facilities are a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training. There must be successful completion of a competency evaluation to be considered. Aides who complete the program are known as certified nurse assistants (CNAs) and are placed by the state registry as nurse aides.
Aides must be in good health. Required state-regulated tests, such as tuberculosis, may be required along with a physical examination. Criminal background checks usually are also required for employment. Advancement is limited. Additional formal training or education to enter other health occupations would be needed if one might be considered for promotion. The most common health care occupations for former aides are licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and medical assistant.
What does a Nursing Aide do?
Nurse aides assist and care for others. Workloads can be physically demanding. Aides are on their feet all day, moving patients in and out of bed or to get them to stand and walk. Physical activities are done throughout the day, which means aides should be in good overall health. Medical attention, emotional support, and personal care needs are rendered. Accurate observation and obtainment of information from all relevant sources are all in a day's work. Object Identification, actions, and events play an important role in detecting changes in circumstances or events. Likewise, monitoring all processes, materials, and surroundings is equally important for the detection and assessment of problems. Aides must also be able to document information accurately and efficiently. And, lastly, aides have to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships, usually the most involved versus any other health professional, because aides have the most one-on-one interaction with each patient during their care.
What skills or qualities do I need to become a Nursing Aide?
Aides need to be active listeners, giving full attention to patients while instructing their patients on how to do essential tasks. It is also important to convey oneself with the most effective information. Aides should be well-coordinated in rela...