Overall, however, any Emergency NP is capable of handling extremely stressful situations and of ensuring that he or she is ready for the next difficult condition that appears.
Southern Universities Offering Nursing Education
There are many universities all over the country that offer nursing education. In the south, many of these universities are concentrated in Alabama and Florida. Auburn University in Alabama has a school of nursing that was founded in 1979 (Auburn). The school's nursing program is designed for the adult or family nurse practitioner, and does not offer other specialties. However, it does offer courses such as Healthcare Policy and Ethics, along with Advanced Theoretical Formulations. The NP designation requires 43 credit hours and 840 clinical hours over a total of six semesters Auburn, 2012). That makes the degree relatively comprehensive, and compares favorably with other programs in the south (Auburn, 2012). The University of Alabama also offers a graduate degree in nursing, allowing a person to become a Nurse Practitioner. According to the website for the University, there are several nursing specialties that can be undertaken there (University, 2012).
In Florida, the degrees and requirements are very similar. The major universities in that state offer NP degrees, and they offer specialty options. Additionally, schools in Mississippi and other southern states have similar programs that can be undertaken by anyone who is dedicated to that career choice and can qualify for the school's admission requirements. Getting into an NP program is not something that everyone can do, and the school does not have to accept all applications for that program. For those who are not really prepared for an NP program because they do not have their bachelor's degree in nursing, it is important to talk to the school and determine if there are bridge programs available or whether a person would have to attend the school (or another school) to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing before moving on to the NP program.
It is also important to talk to any school one plans to attend about current and future requirements for an NP, because there is a current plan to phase out the Master's degree option for NPs by 2015 (Lenz, et al., 2004). That would require every nurse who plans to receive the NP designation to have a Doctoral level education. There would no longer be a master's degree available for nurse practitioners, and those who are working on a master's degree now may have trouble when they attempt to become NPs. Whether they will be "grandfathered in" will be up to the governing body at that time, and this is true of all NPs who do not currently have a Doctoral level of education, as well.
As can be seen, there is much more to being a Nurse Practitioner than just getting some education and taking a test. The level of education required is highly significant, and the clinical experience that one needs to have the NP designation is a time commitment, as well. For nurses who are very dedicated, this is not an issue, because they put in many hours and have no problem working harder for something that matters deeply to them. However, with the changing requirements for NPs, those who are interested in the profession and the designation will need to be mindful of what they will be required to do in the future. If they do not pay close attention to the new and changing requirements, they may end up with an education that they cannot use to its fullest potential because they are suddenly required to get even more education before they are able to move forward in their careers. Naturally, this can be disturbing and frustrating, and it could even stop some nurses from going for their NP designation, simply because they do not feel they can invest the time and money into getting a Doctoral degree when a master's would have been acceptable in the past.
Because nurse practitioners are so similar to doctors in many ways, it stands to reason that they would be required to have a great deal of education. This protects them, and it also protects their patients. The outcomes of patients who are treated by doctors and by nurse practitioners have also been studied, and it has been found that the vast majority of nurse practitioners can perform patient care duties just as well as if not better than the doctors who specialize in the same field of study. That is an important consideration for people getting into the nursing field and also an important consideration for patients who are looking for good medical care they can afford.
Auburn University (2012). Nurse Practitioner Track. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/academic/nursing/academics/NE%20and%20NP%20Track.pdf
Flanagan, L. (1997). Nurse Practitioners: Growing Competition for Family Physicians? - Family Practice Management.
Horrocks, S., Anderson, E., & Salisbury, C. (2002). Systematic review of whether nurse practitioners working in primary care can provide equivalent care to doctors. British Medical Journal, 324, 819-823.
International Council of Nurses. (2012). Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nurse: Definition and Characteristics. Nursing Matters Fact Sheets.
Lenz, E.R., Mundinger, M.O., Kane, R.L., Hopkins, S.C., & Lin, S.X. (2004). Primary care outcomes in patients treated by nurse practitioners or physicians: Two-year follow-up. Medical Care Research Review, 61, 332-351.
Mundinger, M.O., Kane, R.L., Lenz, E.R., Totten, a.M., Tsai, W.-Y., Cleary, P.D., et al. (2000). Primary care outcomes in patients treated by nurse practitioners or physicians: A randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 283, 59-68.