How to Become a Nurse Practitioner after BSN

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Are you a registered nurse (RN) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree? If so, you’re already on the right track to becoming a nurse practitioner (NP). With the demand for healthcare professionals on the rise, nurse practitioners play a vital role in providing high-quality patient care. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to become a nurse practitioner after BSN, opening up new opportunities for career advancement and personal growth.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who possess the expertise and autonomy to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications, and provide holistic care. They work in a variety of healthcare settings, collaborating with physicians and other medical professionals to deliver comprehensive and patient-centered care. As a nurse practitioner, you can specialize in areas such as family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, or mental health, tailoring your career to your passion and interests.

Requirements for Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

To embark on the journey of becoming a nurse practitioner, a BSN degree is typically the first requirement. This foundational education equips you with the necessary nursing knowledge and skills. However, to become an NP, you’ll need to pursue further education and meet additional requirements.

Gaining clinical experience as an RN is crucial before transitioning to an NP role. This hands-on experience provides valuable insights into patient care and strengthens your clinical skills. It also offers an opportunity to build professional networks, which can be beneficial during your NP education and future career.

Apart from clinical experience, pursuing advanced education is a key step towards becoming an NP. Most nurse practitioner programs require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. These programs provide specialized knowledge and training, preparing you to take on the responsibilities of an NP.

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Steps to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner after BSN

1. Research and Choose a Specialty Area

Before diving into an NP program, take the time to explore different specialty areas. Reflect on your interests, strengths, and long-term career goals. Whether you’re passionate about working with children, managing chronic diseases, or providing primary care, selecting a specialty that aligns with your aspirations will make your journey more fulfilling.

2. Obtain Relevant Certifications and Licenses

As you progress towards becoming a nurse practitioner, it’s essential to obtain the necessary certifications and licenses. This ensures that you meet the regulatory requirements and can practice within your chosen specialty. For example, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certifications specific to various nurse practitioner specialties, such as family nurse practitioner (FNP) or pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP).

3. Pursue Advanced Education (MSN or DNP)

Once you’ve chosen your specialty and acquired the required certifications, it’s time to pursue advanced education. Nurse practitioner programs typically offer MSN or DNP degrees, allowing you to delve deeper into your chosen field and develop advanced clinical skills. These programs often include coursework, clinical rotations, and research components to enhance your knowledge and expertise.

4. Gain Clinical Experience as a Nurse Practitioner Student

During your advanced education, you’ll have opportunities to gain clinical experience as a nurse practitioner student. This hands-on training allows you to apply your classroom knowledge in real-world healthcare settings under the guidance of experienced preceptors. It’s a valuable chance to refine your clinical skills, build confidence, and establish a strong foundation for your future career.

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5. Pass the National Certification Exam

To practice as a nurse practitioner, you must pass a national certification exam specific to your chosen specialty. Organizations such as the ANCC and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) offer certification exams for nurse practitioners. These exams assess your clinical knowledge and competence, ensuring that you meet the standards required to provide safe and effective care.

6. Apply for State Licensure as a Nurse Practitioner

Once you’ve successfully passed the certification exam, the final step is to apply for state licensure as a nurse practitioner. Each state has its own licensing requirements, so it’s important to research and understand the specific regulations in your desired practice location. Obtaining state licensure grants you the legal authority to practice as an NP and opens doors to a wide range of job opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the job outlook for nurse practitioners after BSN?

A: The job outlook for nurse practitioners is extremely promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurse practitioners is projected to grow at a much faster rate than average for all occupations. This high demand is driven by various factors, including the aging population, increased emphasis on preventive care, and the need for cost-effective healthcare providers.

Q: What is the salary potential for nurse practitioners?

A: Nurse practitioners enjoy competitive salaries, reflecting their advanced education and expertise. The median annual wage for nurse practitioners in the United States was $117,670 as of May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary can vary based on factors such as experience, specialization, geographic location, and practice setting.

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Q: What is the scope of practice for nurse practitioners?

A: The scope of practice for nurse practitioners varies by state. While some states grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners, allowing them to work independently and prescribe medications without physician supervision, others have more restrictive regulations. It’s important to stay informed about the scope of practice laws in your state to understand the level of autonomy and responsibilities you’ll have as an NP.


Becoming a nurse practitioner after BSN is an exciting and fulfilling career path for registered nurses looking to advance their professional journey. By obtaining additional education, gaining clinical experience, and meeting the necessary requirements, you can transition into a role that allows you to make a significant impact on patient care. The demand for nurse practitioners continues to grow, offering a bright future filled with opportunities for personal and professional growth. Start your journey today and unlock the potential of becoming a nurse practitioner after BSN.

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