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How to Get a Nurse Practitioner License

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A nurse practitioner license is obtained through additional education and training in a specialized field of nursing. Nursing school graduates must work as a registered nurse and finish a master's program before getting board certified and a nurse practitioner license. Licensing laws and requirements for nurse practitioners differ by state. Nurse practitioners may diagnose, treat and make prescriptions for patients within their practice of specialization.

Become a Registered Nurse

Complete a nursing program at an accredited nursing school to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This degree can be finished in four years. Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).

For a shorter program, complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) instead of the bachelor's degree. This degree is typically completed in two years. Students who wish to obtain a nurse practitioner license are required to have a bachelor of science.

Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become an officially registered nurse (RN). There may be other licensing and registration requirements to get the RN license, depending on the state.

Work the number of years required as a registered nurse for entry into the master's program of your choice.

Master of Science in Nursing

Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Millers Analogies Test (MAT). Obtain the required minimum score for entry into your chosen master's nursing program.

Complete the master's program to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing. This two-year program consists of seminars, lectures as well as a clinical residency. Courses typically include clinical training, pharmacology, medical ethics, and healthcare management.

Choose your specialty within the nursing profession. Students can pick from different fields including primary care, women's health, public health, geriatrics, psychiatric and others.

Board Certification and Licensure

Register for the national board certification examination for your chosen specialty. Certification is awarded by various national nursing organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Check the eligibility requirements for the national board certification in your chosen field. General requirements include a current RN license in your state of practice and at least 500 supervised clinical hours in the nurse practitioner program for your chosen specialty.

Get re-certified in your field through continuing education on a regular basis to maintain your national certification credential.

Check the qualification requirements for licensing in your state of practice to obtain a nurse practitioner license. Laws on nurse practitioner licensing differ from state to state. Many require a master's degree and national certification.