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How should I choose a nurse practitioner track when I go back to school?

Monday May 21, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am looking at colleges to become an advanced practice nurse. What is the difference between an adult nurse practitioner and acute care nurse practitioner? Do both get the experience of the hospital setting and can both teach at universities in the clinical setting?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Jennifer,

The two nurse practitioner tracks are similar, but the acute care track is targeted specifically to nurses who might be hospitalists or employed in other hospital roles. The adult NP track focuses more on all phases of adult health and wellness, including working in the ambulatory care setting. Which one you choose might depend on where your greatest interest or career plan lies, although you could work in almost any setting with either specialty focus. You can teach in a university setting with either.

Do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with advanced practice nurses in both specialties. Look at the coursework and curriculum, including clinical requirements for both, and choose the one that is most interesting and exciting to you. You can't go wrong either way.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.