You have always harbored a dream of opening your own medical practice and helping your community achieve health and wellness — but medical school isn’t for you. Fortunately, you can realize your dream through the nursing career path. By becoming a nurse practitioner, you can avoid the trials and tribulations of medical school while gaining the necessary knowledge, skills and credentials to treat patients with almost the same care as a practicing physician.
The path to becoming a nurse practitioner is relatively straightforward, if not exactly easy. Here is a guide to earning your nurse practitioner qualifications and launching the practice of your dreams.
Become a Registered Nurse With a BSN
There are many different types of nurses, from nurse assistants to licensed practical nurses to registered nurses with ADNs. Before you can become a nurse practitioner and open your own practice, you need to be a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. A BSN degree requires four years of study at an accredited university — or else an associate’s degree in nursing plus the completion of additional credits from a nursing college. In addition to being the best minimum education requirement for working as a nurse, making you a more competitive candidate for available nursing positions and qualifying you for the highest entry-level pay, a BSN is absolutely required by graduate-level nurse practitioner programs.
Complete a Nurse Practitioner Graduate Program
Registered nurses can practice nursing anywhere, from hospitals and doctor’s offices to clinics and care homes, but they cannot launch their own medical practice. Before you can make your private practice dreams come true, you need to become a nurse practitioner, which requires you to complete a master’s-level nurse practitioner program.
Nurse practitioner degrees advance the knowledge and skill you have gained during your nurse education and experience. You will take courses on evidence-based practices, pharmacology and community health, which will make you more adept at diagnosing and treating different conditions. Most nurses find nurse practitioner programs to be incredibly intense, so you should try to devote a majority of your time and energy toward completing your program and earning this essential credential.
Acquire the Right Licensing and Permits for Your Practice
Once you have your nurse practitioner degree, you might want to spend a few years in the field to become accustomed to the increased responsibilities that come with this qualification. Then, when you are ready, you can begin preparing to launch your own private practice.
To start, you need to investigate your state’s licensing requirements for medical practices. Not all states allow nurse practitioners to work fully independently of a physician; if you live in California, Texas, Florida or a handful of other southeastern states, you might want to relocate to a different state to ensure that you have the authority to open a private practice without a physician partner.
Once you are in a location that allows you to open a practice, you should apply for all necessary licenses and permits, as you will need them before you can begin treating patients. You should also apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI), which is an identification number that makes it possible for health providers to access patient health records, bill Medicare and more. Finally, you definitely want to acquire malpractice insurance. Though not all states require private practices to maintain malpractice insurance, it is a good way to keep your business and your personal assets safe.
Use Social Media to Attract Patients
You won’t be practicing anything in your private practice if you cannot attract patients. You might work with a marketing firm to help build your practice branding and promote your new practice amongst local audiences. However, if your budget is too small to utilize professional marketing services, there are other ways you can build your clientele. There are many marketing channels you can leverage to attract the attention of prospective patients, and social media is perhaps the most accessible. You might brainstorm ways that you can create content that could build interest in your practice to form an online community that translates into real patient visits.
You don’t need to dedicate more than a decade of your life to medical school for the opportunity to run your own private practice. With the right credentials in the right location, you can be an independent nurse practitioner delivering high-quality medical knowledge to patients in no time.