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Nurse Practitioner: Requirements of Education

Job description

Care/service provided by the healthcare professional

A Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) is a health care professional who has received the requisite education and training to diagnose and treat various kinds of health problems. A CRNP lays stress on the prevention of diseases and promotes wellness among the society. Most of the CRNPs are specialized in a particular segment of health care such as pediatrics and elderly care. CRNPs acquire the medical history of patients and carry out the required tests. They are also authorized (in association with a physician) to provide medication to their patients (The Pennsylvania Code, 2009a).

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Limits of authority and responsibility legislated “scope of practice” for this healthcare career

According to the practice guidelines stated in the Pennsylvania Code, a CRNP is required to be associated with a licensed physician. A CRNP, associated with a licensed physician, is authorized to attend patients and establish a diagnosis. On condition that the diagnosed disease is under the purview of the CRNP, the requisite tests might be suggested and the test results interpreted. A CRNP is also authorized to have further consultations with professional health care providers (licensed) and develop treatment method and schedule. All the formalities pertaining to the admission and discharge of patients can also be carried out by a CRNP. Other authorizations of a CRNP include arranging blood, dietary plans, home health care, and medical equipment for the patients. A CRNP is also authorized to suggest referrals for physical therapy, dietician, and various other therapies (The Pennsylvania Code, 2009b).

“Code of Ethics” for this health care occupation

The cultural and religious beliefs of the patient and health care provider can sometimes bring about conflict and have a negative impact on the patient-nurse interaction. In any nurse-patient relationship, therapeutic affiliation may be necessary. However, this affiliation can lead to stress or tension between the nurse and patient due to ethical issues (Basford, 2003). This emotional mistrust between the patient and nurse can lead to feelings of tension, confusion and stress that may result in a struggle for power. A risk to the health of the patients is also eminent, as they might stop treatment if they feel that they are being coerced in to what they do not approve of. Nurses might be confused as they try to strike a balance between abiding by practice principles and satisfying their patients’ needs.

Professional nurses strive to engage in ethical practices and development of the profession. Additionally, nurses are responsible and accountable for their services (Butts, 2012). On the other hand, the nursing practice is in fact a mixture of interfaces among the person, concepts, nursing, health, and the environment. The decisions made at various levels in nurses’ practice can affect the way in which they perform their duties with regard to morals and practice ethics. These levels may include regional, international, organizational, national as well as individual levels. There are varying capabilities that are required for decision making at such levels.


Requirements for the profession

A CRNP is required to “have completed an accredited, Board-approved master’s or postmaster’s nurse practitioner program or other Board-approved program that awarded an advanced degree or a course of study considered by the Board to be equivalent to that required for certification” (The Pennsylvania Code, 2009c, p. 1).

Institutions/schools offering the program

Following are two of the educational institutions that offer programs in nursing:

  • Drexel University (College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia)
  • University of Pennsylvania (College of Nursing, Philadelphia)

Both these schools are approved by the Board.

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Time required to complete the course

The time required for a CRNP program is four years.

Approximate cost for each of the educational institution

The cost factor is not mentioned at the websites of both these schools.

What degree or certification can be earned for this health care career?

Drexel University: Family Nurse Practitioner Certification issued by American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) (Drexel University, 2014).

Pennsylvania University: Family Health Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Penn Nursing Science, 2014).

Professional certification or registration required

The qualification required for such programs is a master’s degree in nursing science (Degree Directory, 2014).


Job availability for this profession

Job availability for this profession is in abundance.

Growth trends in the field

The ensuing years are expected to witness an increase in the requirement for primary and outpatient care. The rural areas are also expected to have a greater demand for the registered nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that nurse practitioners had a bright future, especially in rural areas. The job prospects for the nurse practitioners are expected to increase by 22 percent by the year 2018, as compared to 2008 (Degree Directory, 2014).

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Number of jobs advertised locally for example in the Sunday Herald or other publication

The number of jobs found (online) for CRNPs is very encouraging. Following are the results of various websites:

  • 118 jobs
  • 142 jobs
  • 693 jobs

Is experience required? Explain.

The experience factor depends on the significance of the job that has been advertised. There are certain jobs that are for entry-level candidates but a majority of the jobs require some experience. The reason is that health care is a very crucial field and experience is a must to handle the critical patients.

Salaries – entry level and with experience

The average pay of a registered nurse in the USA is $81,145. Pay-level greatly depends on the years of experience that a nurse practitioner has. The following chart depicts the difference:

Pay by experience level for nurse practitioner.

The salary of entry-level jobs is expected to experience a downslide of about 4%. The salary for the mid-career jobs is expected to rise by 5%. The salaries of the experienced category and the late-career category are expected to rise by 9% and 10% respectively (Payscale, 2014).

What are the advancement opportunities, with or without additional education?

Advancement of nursing professionals is possible only through continuous education. CRNPs can earn continuous education units and progress in their specialized fields.

Professional activities

Local/state/national professional organizations (cost to join as a student)

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offers professional membership to nursing practitioners. The annual cost for such membership is USD 125. The organization offers more than 100 continuing education programs that are free of cost and a discount of USD 75 on AANP Certification program applications (AANP, 2014).

Professional journals with address and cost

Subscription to journals (for members only) such as ‘The Journal for Nurse Practitioners’ (JNP) and ‘Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP) is provided for free. Membership can be obtained from AANP (AANP, 2014).

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Are continuing educational units (CEUs) required for this profession? If so, how many CEUs and how often?

Yes, continuing educational units (CEUs) are required for this profession. Such requirements are to be completed once in every two years (The Pennsylvania Code, 2009d). Strict disciplinary action is initiated against CRNPs who do not adhere to the requirement. There are exceptions (like illness) when a CRNP is exempted from continuing educational requirement.

Describe ways that members of a professional organization can gain continuing education requirements and earn CEUs

Professional organizations such as the AANP offer free continuous education opportunities. It also provides the latest information on various healthcare issues. All the resources required by a nurse practitioner are provided by the organization. Moreover, the organization offers advocacy at different levels (AANP, 2014).

Reflection/personal career plan

Reflect on how you see yourself fitting into this position

Since I have already completed my master’s degree in nursing science, I am eligible to apply for a certification of CRNP. Moreover, I have an instinct to work as a healthcare professional and serve the people.

Describe a personal career plan for you to enter this field. Include goals, objectives and strategies

I plan to enroll for a CRNP certification program in a reputed educational institute. Once I successfully complete the program, I intend to apply for a satisfactory job. Meanwhile, I also plan to be a professional member of the AANP. This will enhance my knowledge and the continuous education program will increase my value as a professional as well.


AANP. (2014). Professional membership. Web.

Basford, L. (2003). Theory and practice of nursing: An integrated approach to caring practice. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. Web.

Butts, J. (2012). Nursing ethics: Across the curriculum and into practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Web.

Degree Directory. (2014). Nurse practitioner: Career summary, employment outlook, and educational requirements. Web.

Drexel University. (2014). Key program features. Web.

Payscale. (2014). Nurse Practitioner (NP) salary (United States). Web.

Penn Nursing Science. (2014). Family (Individual across lifespan) Nurse Practitioner Program. Web.

The Pennsylvania Code. (2009a). 21.283. Authority and qualification for prescribing, dispensing and ordering drugs. Web.

The Pennsylvania Code. (2009b). 21.282a. CRNP practice. Web.

The Pennsylvania Code. (2009c). 21.271. Certification requirements. Web.

The Pennsylvania Code. (2009d). 21.332. Requirement of continuing education. Web.

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