A certified nurse practitioner (CNP) is a registered nurse with the training and knowledge to diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications and administer physical examinations. Nurse practitioners provide comprehensive holistic care of patients by emphasizing prevention, education and wellness. Job functions include ordering diagnostic tests, prescribing physical therapy, providing health education and performing tasks such as biopsies, suturing and casting. If you're interested in this career, there are several CNP nursing degree specializations, including family practice, neonatal care, acute care and psychiatric mental health care.

Family Nurse Practitioner

The Thomas Jefferson School of Nursing in Philadelphia offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty as a family nurse practitioner. Students in this program can earn a degree in 15 months of full-time study, although part-time study is also available. A core curriculum of 18 credit hours is required in classes such as research for advance nursing, epidemiology for the health professions and role of the advanced practice nurse. In addition, students must complete another 18 credit hours in family nurse practitioner specialty classes, such as pathology aspects of disease, management of women and children and management of common health problems in primary care. Graduates will be certified as nurse practitioners focusing on a family centered approach to wellness and illness prevention, and be eligible for certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Creighton University in Omaha has developed a 43-credit-hour Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization as a neonatal nurse practitioner. The program provides continuing education for nurses in the care and maintenance of critically ill infants. Course work includes the management of chronic diseases, health promotion during pregnancy, newborn follow-up care and family-oriented developmental care. Graduates of this program are qualified to sit for the certification exam conferred by the National Certification Corporation as a neonatal nurse practitioner. The program, which requires a 300-hour residency, can be completed in five semesters of full-time study. Applicants must possess a Bachelor of Science in nursing from an accredited institution, and have earned a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., has a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty as an adult care nurse practitioner. The degree requires 40 credit hours of class work and 600 clinical hours of residency, and prepares graduates for the board-credentialing exam given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The program trains nurses to ease the suffering of acutely ill adult patients and their families, and integrates knowledge from psychosocial and physiological sciences.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Columbia University's Master of Science in Nursing (with a specialty as a psychiatric mental health practitioner) trains nurses to work in day treatment programs, substance abuse programs, mental health centers and private practice. The program recommends that students select a clinical specialty working with adults, adolescents, children or elderly patients and their families. To earn the degree, students are required to complete 53 credit hours of study. Graduates are eligible to sit for the American Nurses Association certification exam, and for licensing in the state of New York.

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