This article will tell you what a nurse practitioner bridge program is, and what you need to do to earn this master of science in nursing degree. We will point out the factors you should consider as you select a nurse practitioner bridge degree, and will offer a recommendation on a high quality online program to consider.
What Is a Nurse Practitioner Bridge Program?
Not every nurse practitioner (NP) entered that profession from the very beginning of her education. Some nurses first earn their associate’s degree or nursing diploma, which gives them their RN designation. After they work for several years, some RNs decide to earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become an NP.
A nurse practitioner bridge program allows the experienced Registered Nurse RN with an associate’s degree or nursing diploma to earn her bachelor’s and master’s in nursing at the same time. This offers the experienced nurse the advantage of earning the same degrees in far less time than taking both programs separately.
A nurse practitioner will work closely in collaboration with a doctor and other healthcare professionals. Most NPs are able to prescribe drugs, order medical exams, diagnose health problems, and do most duties that doctors can. NPs also are authorized to refer patients to specialists and may also read diagnostic tests. An NP is often a patient’s primary care health professional and has an increasingly important role in health care today.
Some states may allow NPs to work in private practice without being supervised by a doctor. This is becoming more common as health care costs rise and fewer doctors are being hired due to their high costs. You will want to check in your state on what exact duties NPs can have.
There also are nurse practitioner programs available that allow you to hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, and then earn your BSN and MSN at the same time. This option also will save you a great deal of time and expense. Some universities will refer to this as a direct entry MSN.
Common areas of study in a nurse practitioner program include the following:
- Foundations of professional nursing
- Health assessment
- Nursing and healthcare industry research
- How to care for diverse populations
- Advances in pathophysiology and assessment
- Nursing and healthcare industry research
After completing your master’s degree in nursing, you need to earn your NP certification from a variety of professional nursing organizations. Which one will depend upon your chosen specialty. If you choose to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, for example, you would need to earn your certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
Why Earn a Nurse Practitioner Bridge Program Degree?
The demand for nursing professionals is so strong in America today that there is a major shortage in many areas. For example, the advanced nursing practice professions – including NP, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist – are experiencing record increases in job demand by 2024.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand in these advanced nursing practice roles will grow very quickly for years to come:
- Nurse practitioner: 126,900 jobs to 171,700 jobs – 35% increase
- Nurse anesthetist: 38,200 jobs to 45,600 jobs – 19% increase
- Nurse midwife: 5,300 jobs to 6,600 jobs – 25% increase
NP demand specifically is rising rapidly because health care costs are growing quickly. Rather than continue to pay doctors to handle many routine medical tasks in doctors’ offices, NPs can be tasked to handle many of the same roles, including conducting medical exams and prescribing medicines.
Another smart reason to earn your NP degree is that the median salary for nurse practitioners is excellent: $98,190, according to BLS. Salary.com reports the median salary to be $101,027.
Further, if you want to enjoy a high degree of respect in the medical field, becoming an NP is a sure way to do it. Nurse practitioners are such a vital part of the health care system today, that it would be difficult for the American healthcare system to function without them.
Lastly, many nurses decide to become nurse practitioners because there is a tremendous variety of specialities available in the field. You have the option of working with specific populations, such as pediatric or elderly patients.
You also may work specifically in trauma care, acute care or even specific diseases, such as diabetes. Many NPs find the ability to specialize in an area about which they are passionate to be immensely satisfying personally and professionally.
Online Nurse Practitioner Bridge Program Degree
If you think that you want to become a nurse practitioner, we recommend for your consideration Chamberlain University’s RN-BSN-to-MSN Online Program.
This accredited program allows you to earn your BSN and MSN in the same program. At the end of the three to five year program, you will be either a nurse practitioner, or you also can choose these specialty tracks:
- Nurse Educator
- Nurse Executive
- Health Policy or Informatics
Your required core classes include:
- Transitions in Professional Nursing
- RN Information Systems in Healthcare
- Statistics in Decision Making
- RN Evidence Based Practice
- RN Collaborative Healthcare
- RN Health Assessment
- Healthcare Policy
- Theoretical Basis for Advanced Nursing Practice
To be admitted, you are required to currently have a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing. You also must possess a current, active and unrestricted RN license in the United States.
The program commences with your RN to BSN curriculum. As you are becoming close to earning your BSN, you then will start your MSN classes.
All of the classes are online, but the Family NP track does require you to visit the campus one time during one of the NP classes.
This nursing program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE.
Students considering a degree in nursing either online or on campus should verify that the CCNE has accredited the program. This is the most highly respected accreditation body in the field of nursing.
Experienced nurses, or experienced professionals in another field with a bachelor’s degree, who choose to become nurse practitioners will enjoy a very rewarding career. The massive increase in jobs for nurse practitioners will only accelerate in the coming years, as health care costs rise and our population grows older.
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners – Job Outlook. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6
- Nurse Practitioner Salaries. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www1.salary.com/Nurse-Practitioner-Salary.html
- 6 Reasons to Become a Nurse Practitioner. (2014, Jan. 23). Retrieved from http://onlinenursingdegrees.maryville.edu/6-reasons-to-become-a-nurse-practitioner/
- Chamberlain University. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.chamberlain.edu/academics/nursing-school/rn-bsn-to-msn