Whether you are a practicing Registered Nurse in Maryland or Washington, D.C., or you are a college student looking towards your future, becoming a nurse practitioner can be an exciting and rewarding path. Before you can become a nurse practitioner, you must be sure that you are a truly dedicated to the idea because it does require significant formal education as well as hands on training.
Unlike RNs, nurse practitioners (or NPs) must complete an accredited graduate level program that culminates in either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Both of these paths require significant time and effort. However, once an NP is able to begin independent practice, he or she can usually make more money and enjoy significant autonomy in Maryland or the District of Columbia. Nurse practitioners fill a vital role in the U.S. healthcare system and are likely to continue to be in high demand for many years.
As with most careers, there are a few different ways that someone can become a nurse practitioner. The right path for any individual will depend on their current experience level as well as how much time they have to devote to training. The most common path to becoming a nurse practitioner in either Maryland or Washington, D.C. is outlined below.
One prerequisite for all nurse practitioners is an undergraduate degree in nursing. The sooner a prospective NP can earn this degree the better. Initial RN licensure requires only an Associate’s Degree in nursing, which can be completed in 2 years. However, a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree is required by most NP programs, and BSN-to-MSN NP programs tend to require less time to complete than do ADN-to-MSN bridge NP programs. Students applying to either type of NP program should ensure their program has earned accreditation from a recognized body such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN), as this can impact future licensure prospects.
Students who successfully complete an undergraduate nursing program are eligible to apply for their Registered Nurse licensure in Maryland or Washington. New nurses must first successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam, submit to a background check, and submit a completed application to the requisite Board of Nursing. In Maryland, this is the Maryland Board of Nursing while in Washington, D.C., applications will go to the D.C. Department of Health. Successful applicants will be able to begin to practice as a registered nurse.
Because Maryland is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, RNs from 25 participating states are eligible to work in Maryland, meaning that nurses do not necessarily need to complete their undergraduate work in Maryland in order to work there later. Washington, D.C. is not a member of the NLC.
To continue down the path to becoming a nurse practitioner, RNs must complete further formal training by way of a graduate program in the form of either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The duration of these programs can vary depending on whether the nurse is available to attend full time, as well as which degree the nurse pursues.
In Maryland, students must attend a program that has been approved by the Board of Nursing. A current list of approved programs is available from the Board of Nursing. Those who attend schools that are not listed may experience delays in licensure since the school will have to submit the program for Board approval.
Unlike RNs, nurse practitioners must identify a specialty focus prior to beginning practice. Indeed, each nurse practitioner program, whether online or on-campus, will focus on a specific patient population. Before earning a nurse practitioner license, nurses must earn a specialty credential from a Maryland approved credentialing body, which include:
Earning a credential from one of these organizations will generally include submitting transcripts from a nurse practitioner program and sitting for an exam focused on that specialty. The time required to receive a final credential will depend on the individual board.
Nurse Practitioner Certification for the state of Maryland requires submitting a completed application along with a $50 non-refundable fee. The application includes standard information including information about the school the applicant attended, specialty credential earned, and current RN license status.
The Maryland certification does have one unique requirement in that applicants must identify a mentor who has agreed to work with them for the first 18 months of their licensure. The mentor must be either a practicing nurse practitioner or a licensed physician. This requirement does not exist for Washington, D.C.
The application process for online NP programs is similar to that of on-campus graduate programs. Applicants should expect submit an application along with transcripts from their undergraduate programs, a professional resume (or CV), proof of current RN licensure, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
Although most NP programs do not require the GRE, some do so it is important for potential applicants to investigate the requirements for their specific program so that they can prepare for that test. Many of the online NP programs in Washington, D.C. also have minimum GPA requirements, which range from 3.0 to 3.3 for undergraduate work.
Applications for online NP programs can be submitted online. Many programs have one or two deadlines during the year for fall and spring admission, although some programs also feature rolling admissions meaning nurses can apply at any time during the year.
In order for Maryland NP program graduates to be eligible for licensure, they must graduate from a program that is accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). It should be noted that the ACEN was formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
In addition to accreditation, nurse practitioner programs must be explicitly approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing. These programs must show evidence of courses covering the following subjects:
Unfortunately there is no completely online program for nurse practitioners at the University of Maryland. However, those interested in pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree are able to complete their core courses online.
Graduates of George Washington University online NP programs are eligible to apply for licensure in Maryland as well as Washington, DC and select counties in Virginia. GWU online nurse practitioner programs include MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate programs in the Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care specialties.
Another prestigious Washington, DC university, Georgetown offers online MSN programs in four different specialties:
The program is accredited by the CCNE and is ranked highly (in the top 30) by the U.S. News and World Report.
Dr. Karen McCrea is an Assistant Professor in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Georgetown. Her research interests include the healthcare needs of the Amish population and she has contributed to the book "Introduction to quality and safety education for nurses."
Dr. Kelley M. Anderson is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown where she has taught since 2007. She also served as Assistant Program Director from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Anderson helped to develop one of the first curriculums for the distance learning program.
Although online education options for aspiring nurse practitioners in Maryland are limited, there are some programs offered by universities located outside of the state that have been approved for Maryland nurses to attend. The list below is not complete (the Maryland Board of Nursing has a more complete list), but select approved programs include:
Online nurse practitioner programs do not uniformly report campus visitation requirements. In fact, specific campus visitation requirements may change depending on the year and the course instructors. Where possible, the below chart lists exact requirements. Where the word "limited" is used, specific data is not available, but general language indicates a limited number of required visits.
|School Name||Program Name||Degree Offered
|Accreditor||Campus Visits Required (Yearly)||Requires RN?||Requires BSN?||Requires MSN?|
|Catholic University of AmericaWashington , DC||Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||CCNE||2||yes||yes||no|
|George Washington UniversityWashington , DC||Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner MSN||MSN||AG-PCNP||CCNE||3||yes||no||no|
|George Washington UniversityWashington , DC||Post-Graduate APRN Certificate: AGPCNP||Post-Graduate Certificate||AG-PCNP||CCNE||3||yes||no||yes|
|George Washington UniversityWashington , DC||Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (AG-PCNP specialty)||DNP||AG-PCNP||CCNE||3||yes||yes||no|
|George Washington UniversityWashington , DC||MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||CCNE||2||yes||no||no|
|George Washington UniversityWashington , DC||Post-Graduate APRN Certificate: FNP||Post-Graduate Certificate||FNP||CCNE||3||yes||no||yes|
|George Washington UniversityWashington , DC||Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (FNP specialty)||DNP||FNP||CCNE||3||yes||no||no|
|Georgetown UniversityWashington , DC||Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)||MSN||AG-ACNP||CCNE||3||yes||yes||no|
|Georgetown UniversityWashington , DC||Family Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)||MSN||FNP||CCNE||2||yes||yes||no|
|Georgetown UniversityWashington , DC||Nurse Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||MSN||NM/WHNP||CCNE||3||yes||yes||no|
|Georgetown UniversityWashington , DC||Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||MSN||WHNP||CCNE||2||yes||yes||no|
Though online education can prepare a nurse for the academic requirements of becoming a nurse practitioner, hands-on clinical training is also an essential piece of the puzzle. The training associated with nurse practitioner programs is known as a preceptorship and involves a student working closely with a nurse practitioner in their chosen specialty.
After graduating from an NP program and completing a national certification exam in his or her chosen specialty, a nurse is eligible to apply for his or her nurse practitioner certification. Certified nurse practitioners in both Maryland and Washington, DC are some of the most independent in the country. In addition to standard nursing authority, nurse practitioners in both regions are able to:
This means that becoming a nurse practitioner in either Maryland or Washington, DC is a tremendous opportunity for nurses who want to be able to practice autonomously and make a significant healthcare contribution.
Online MS - FNP
Online MS - AC-AGNP
Online MS - WHNP
Online MS - Nurse-Midwifery
Online RN to MSN - FNP
Online Bachelor's to MSN - FNP
Online BSN to MSN - FNP