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DiversityNursing Blog

Advanced Nursing Degrees: What You Need to Know

Posted by Sarah West APRN, FNP-BC

Thu, Jan 18, 2024 @ 10:47 AM

If you're looking to return to school for a Nurse Practitioner degree, you may wonder what specialty track you should choose. Choosing a specialty track will determine the type of education you will receive and the type of patients you will be qualified to give care. Here is a guide to some of the most common Nurse Practitioner specialties so you can learn their differences.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

The Family Nurse Practitioner track may be the most versatile degree route for potential NPs. The FNP degree prepares you to care for people across the lifespan, from childhood into adulthood. A Family Nurse Practitioner degree allows you to work in various settings, including primary care, family medicine, emergency care, pediatrics, women's health, and so much more.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners care for children from infancy through adolescence into early adulthood. Pediatric care can be challenging, so PNPs must be highly skilled and educated to provide the best care to the smallest of patients and their parents.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners often work in pediatric outpatient clinics and in the hospital or pediatric specialties like cardiology or endocrinology.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Specializing in psychiatric care has become a popular and sought-after specialty for Nurse Practitioners. PMNHPs have a versatile education resume in psychiatric care, making them eligible to work in outpatient clinics, inpatient units, addiction clinics, and home care.

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP)

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners complete coursework and clinical hours to prepare them to care for adults and the elderly in primary care. A-GNPs work in the primary or long-term care setting, providing care to adults as they age.

After obtaining a license as an A-GNP, you can also work in specialty areas like dermatology or cardiology if the patients are of adult age.

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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

If you are passionate about caring for babies, the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner route may be right for you. NNPs are highly trained and have the skills to care for high-risk, vulnerable newborns. NNPs primarily work in the neonatal intensive care unit inside the hospital, but others can work in outpatient clinics or the emergency department.

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners specialize in women's health issues ranging from adolescence through the end of life. Caring for women's health issues includes every aspect of obstetrics, gynecology, and sexual health.

As an NP specializing in women's health, you will be responsible for providing women with specialized and quality care. WHNPs work in various settings, including outpatient clinics and labor and delivery.

How Long Does It Take to Become A Nurse Practitioner

Despite your chosen course of study, most Nurse Practitioner programs take somewhere between 2-3 years to complete. Once you have completed your master's degree program in your chosen area of study, you will sit for a certification board exam held by the state where you plan to practice.

After you’ve passed this test, you will apply for a license to practice in your state. Once all these things are completed, you can begin practicing as an NP.

Why Become A Nurse Practitioner?

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner will provide you with advanced clinical training and open the door to diverse and exciting career opportunities. Nurse Practitioners of all specialties are in high demand, offering job stability, career advancement opportunities, and job satisfaction.

Ultimately, the decision to become a Nurse Practitioner is personal. Nurse Practitioners must have the drive, skill, and compassion to care for people across the lifespan and continue to strive to provide all patients with the best quality care.


Topics: nursing degree, advanced nursing degrees

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