Despite there being a growing number of NPs in the United States, there are still some myths that exist around the NP profession. Here are just a few examples to note when evaluating this role as a career:
Myth 1: Nurses must practice for more than 5 years before becoming an NP
There is a misconception that in order to become a nurse practitioner, you must first practice as an RN for a fixed number of years. While there is no harm in getting experience as a nurse in the field before becoming a nurse practitioner, there are additional options to accelerate your path to becoming an NP.
One of those options is attending an accelerated NP program, which South College offers to a variety of students from diverse backgrounds. South College helps nursing students thrive by providing a blended approach to education through hands-on experience and online coursework so that students have the flexibility to pursue a degree according to their schedule and needs. You can view the full-list of program options and timing here, but some examples of advanced and accelerated degrees to becoming an NP include:
- BSN-MSN Family NP Track – 18 months full-time
- Accelerated RN-MSN Family NP Track – 30 months full-time depending on academic background
- BSN-MSN Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP Track – 21 months full-time
- BSN-MSN Pediatric NP Track – 18 months full-time
- BSN-MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP – 21 months full-time
Myth 2: Nurse practitioners cannot run their own practice
While in some states there are still restricted practices among NPs, there are many states that are expanding opportunities to nurse practitioners looking to take a more independent approach to their career. As illustrated through a nurse.org infographic, there are a number of varied opportunities for NPs to operate their own practice, with 20 states offering “full practice authority” to nurse practitioners.
Myth 3: Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are the same
At first glance, a physician assistant (PA) and a nurse practitioner may seem to have similar qualifications, both working independently and providing direct care to patients. However, at a closer glance there are distinctions that separate these roles in healthcare. As noted by the Nurse Journal, one of the biggest differences between the two roles include the healthcare philosophy and practice models both PAs and NPs use in their approach with patients.
Based on the nursing care model, NPs tend to look more holistically at the patient and their outcomes, giving equal attention to both a patient’s emotional needs and physical problems. As such, a NP’s approach often includes patient advocacy, patient education, preventive care, and more versus a PA who takes a more medical approach to caring for patients. Alternatively, PAs use the medical model, which often places more emphasis on disease pathology and approaching their patients through the lens of the anatomical and physiological systems that make up the human body.
Now that you understand some of the myths behind nurse practitioners, let’s understand the education, benefits, and next steps one should take before becoming a NP.