Online nurse practitioner programs are a flexible option to advance your nursing education. They’re generally targeted toward current professional nurses, especially those with BSN-RN credentials. Online NP programs build on existing knowledge of bedside care. By doing so, they aim to foster the skills and knowledge a nurse practitioner might use every day.
Courses might focus on things like diagnosis, creating treatment plans, and prescribing medication. They may also discuss patient education to support long term health. That doesn’t even touch on the variety of concentration options you might choose. And because you could find all this online, you could fit your education into your life, no matter what shift you work.
Online nurse practitioner programs may take a holistic perspective. They do that by focusing on a unique combination of patient care, diagnosis and treatment, and patient education topics. The specific courses you take in an online nurse practitioner program may vary. Some examples include topics like pharmacology—that is, the study of drugs and how they interact with people—psychology, anatomy, and pathology. Programs may also focus on what it’s like to work in a variety of care settings. Some programs may even offer concentrations focused on treating certain kinds of patients or medical issues. However each share a similar goal, to prepare students to take on advanced nursing practices and treat patients independently or in collaboration with physicians.
Many—but not all—programs ask that prospective students are registered nurses with experience in the field. Programs like that may rely on knowledge earned on the job or in nursing school as a basis for learning. Other programs may be available to help new nurses earn their RN status during their online NP program. Because of that additional step, those programs may take a little longer to complete. Make sure you're clear on which type of program it is when you're applying, to ensure it's a good fit.
Online nurse practitioner programs aim to be flexible. That could be an important factor for nurses. The ability to access your courses from anywhere, on your own schedule, could help you earn a degree while being there for your patients every day. (Or every night, if you work night shift!) Even better, your online program may keep that personal touch you’d find on campus. They could do that through features like discussion boards, social networking, and video streaming.
When selecting nurse practitioner online programs, be sure to find out if there are any offline components. This could be things like lab sciences that you'd need to do at a satellite campus, or even field observations or clinical rotations. Because online programs may not be anchored to a local school, it’s possible you may need to set some of these up yourself, with the support of your program. Schools vary so follow up with preferred programs for details.
|Online Nurse Practitioner Masters Programs
|In many places, you need masters education to work as a nurse practitioner.i As such, many online masters programs aim to help nurses move into that role for the first time. However, some may also be available to help people become RNs for the first time while pursuing their Nurse Practitioner degree.
|Online Nurse Practitioner Doctorate Programs
|This could include two types of degrees. The most common may be a Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP degree, the other being a PhD. Nurse Practitioner DNPs are terminal. That means they’re the highest level of academic degree you could earn in the field. Many programs require an MSN (or Master of Science in Nursing) or a related masters as a prerequisite. But some programs may allow students to earn both masters and doctorate straight through. Those are generally called "BSN to DNP" programs.
|Online Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs
|Certificate programs could be offered at several levels. This includes masters, post-masters, or doctorate. Because they tend to be shorter in duration, certificate programs may focus on specific subjects. That could include specialty areas or even sub-specialties. However, some certificates also help nurses prepare for nurse practitioner certification. That especially includes post-MSN certificates aimed at nurses who completed a different type of masters nursing program.
Online nurse practitioner programs may be available at several different degree levels. Each one could incorporate a few different degree types, and be appropriate for nurses of different levels of experience.
|Acute Care & Primary Care
|These terms are generally appended to other program names. Acute care means the program focuses on treating specific, short-term issues in settings like emergency clinics and hospitals. Primary care refers to long term, day-to-day healthcare like you might get in a doctor’s office.
|Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs
|These programs focus on infant health, in primary or acute care settings. This could include ages ranging from premature up to two or three, and may cross over in some ways with pediatrics and family care.
|Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs
|Pediatrics focuses on children, adolescents, and teenagers. Topics could include stages of growth, psychological development, and the health concerns of children at different ages. Pediatrics programs could be acute or primary care, and may cross over with other specialties like family care.
|Adult Health & Gerontology
|Adult health is a relatively broad topic. It ranges from around age eighteen through elder years. Gerontology is somewhat narrower. It focuses on the elderly, and may include topics like aging and end-of-life care.
|Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs
|Online FNP programs cover a wide span of patient types and ages. They aim to help students prepare to serve whole families, rather than individual members. They're usually specific to primary care, though acute family care programs may be available.
|Online Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs
|These programs focus on psychiatric care settings. This could include acute care and residential facilities. Courses may discuss a variety of psychiatric disorders, psychotherapy strategies, medications, and more.
|Online Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Programs
|This concentration is unique in that it focuses on a single gender. This could include reproductive health, prenatal and postpartum care, primary care, and more. Other programs might also be available that focus on men's health or all genders.
One unique aspect of online nurse practitioner programs is that many ask or even require students to choose a concentration. Concentrations typically align with career specialties. They focus on certain types of patients and care settings. As such, the one you select may impact your curriculum in significant ways.
Some online nurse practitioner programs may be designed to help students prepare to pursue certification. Nurse practitioners generally need to earn a nationally-recognized certification before they seek employment. The specific certification you need could vary by state or practice specialty. As such, the specific requirements may vary. However, it usually includes passing an exam, clinical review, and education. Certification usually has to be renewed. For more information on what this might entail, follow up with your online nurse practitioner programs. You could also get in touch with the organization that issues the certification in question.
Ready to start your search for accredited online nurse practitioner programs? If so, GradSchools.com can help you find NP programs online. Narrow your search using the menu above. Just select your preferred degree level! Then review the sponsored programs. If you want to learn more about a particular program, click on the name! Then reach out to them and get in touch, or even start applying!