Some registered nurses (RNs) in the Show-Me State decide to become nurse practitioners (NPs) for several good reasons. NPs can provide a greater degree of care to their patients with relative autonomy and have the option to specialize in different fields, including women’s health, pediatrics, and adult-gerontology, among others. Additionally, this career is both high-paying and shows significant promise for growth in coming years. To the first point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that the 65,860 RNs in Missouri (MO) made an annual average salary of $59,150, while the 3,320 NPs enjoyed a mean salary of $90,410, a 52.8 percent increase. To the second point, Projections Central (Dec. 2016) anticipated a 24.8 percent increase in NP openings across Missouri between 2014 and 2024, significantly more robust than the 7 percent average increase expected across all occupations during that time period.
To work as a nurse practitioner—one of several positions in advanced practice nursing (APRN)—a person in MO must achieve at least a master of science in nursing (MSN), which is one of the prerequisites for eligibility to become nationally and locally certified. Some choose instead to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), the terminal degree in the discipline, which may set up an NP to work in academia or as a manager in the MO healthcare industry. It’s worth noting that organizations such as American Association of Colleges of Nursing (April 2016) have called for the adoption of the DNP as the new standard of training in the discipline. This hasn’t yet been implemented formally as criteria for national certification or state APRN licensure in MO, although this could change in coming years.
Following credentialing, these professionals can tap into local associations which offer support in the industry, including the Association of Missouri Nurse Practitioners (AMNP). The AMNP provides continuing education (CE) opportunities, an active job board, legal advocacy for issues in the field, networking events, and other resources.
While some aspiring NPs in Missouri choose to attend traditional on-campus graduate nursing programs, others may find it more convenient to attend one of many online NP programs in MO. These programs may be ideal for residents of more remote regions of the state as well as those who would like to keep their jobs while pursuing an advanced online degree. Distance-based NP programs generally combine online coursework with clinical experiences through approved preceptor sites close to a student’s home. These programs continue to gain traction and popularity for several reasons: not only are they becoming more standardized and widespread throughout the US, but as the demand for healthcare services continues to increase nationwide with the aging of the Baby Boomers, so too does the need for trained NPs.
This guide explores how to become an nurse practitioner, including the array of accredited online NP programs in MO and details about professional credentialing in the field.
The path to becoming an NP in MO varies, but generally includes the attainment of both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from accredited institutions; getting certification from one of several, specialized national organizations; and achieving state APRN licensure.
Here is one possible route to become a Missouri nurse practitioner:
To begin, individuals who aspire to become an NP must first obtain their undergraduate degree. The Missouri State Board of Nursing reports that this is a prerequisite for eligibility to become a registered nurse (RN), which is necessary to become a nurse practitioner. Students should consider pursuing either a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN). It’s worth noting that with rare exception, the majority of online NP programs—including all of the MO-based schools—require candidates to have at least a BSN prior to entry. This is because the longer degree program fulfills some of the clinical training hours and typical NP program course prerequisites, including anatomy & physiology; statistics; and microbiology, among others. The MO BoN provides a list of qualifying undergraduate programs to sit for the NCLEX-RN; additionally, prospective NPs in MO and beyond should seek out nursing programs accredited by one of two national organizations: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). Generally, a bachelor’s degree in nursing will take approximately four full-time years to complete, while an associate degree will take two years, although individual experiences may vary.
Upon completion of an undergraduate nursing degree, an aspiring NP must then pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to become licensed as an RN in the state. Prior to getting the opportunity to sit for the exam, candidates must submit the following to the MO Board of Nursing:
Also, those interested in pursuing a graduate degree in nursing will likely be required to have at least one year of nursing experience, preferably in one’s intended NP specialty such as women’s health, neonatal care, or another field.
After completing an undergraduate degree, obtaining licensure as an RN, and subsequently attaining a year of nursing experience, an aspiring NP should continue by pursuing a graduate degree from a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited institution. As mentioned above, there are generally two degree options: a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing (DNP), both of which may qualify the person for national certification and regional APRN licensure. At this phase, there are six main NP specializations to pursue: adult-gerontology (primary or acute care), pediatrics (primary or acute care), women’s health, family health, psychiatric-mental health, and neonatal care. In addition to around 500 clinical hours, MSN programs generally involve courses such as health promotion & disease prevention; pathophysiology; nursing theory; and advanced health assessment. DNP programs include approximately 1,000 clinical hours and leadership-focused coursework in population-based & global health; healthcare economics; law & ethics in healthcare delivery; and advanced research study design, among others.
This step in the process will vary depending on the NP’s intended specialization, but typically involves sending one’s official NP program transcripts and passing a comprehensive examination. There are various national certifying bodies for NPs such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the National Certification Corporation (NCC), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).
To learn in depth about how to join any of the six major NP specializations enumerated above and more, check out the ‘specializations’ section on the online nurse practitioner programs page.
After an aspiring NP has obtained a graduate degree and has met all other criteria necessary to become an APRN in Missouri, he or she must submit an application for a ‘Document of Recognition’ through the Missouri State Board of Nursing. This requires the submission of a completed, notarized application; a fee ($150); an authorization to release confidential information; a copy of one’s national certification; and proof of RN licensure.
Here is a basic overview of requirements that aspiring NPs will likely face applying to online programs in Missouri:
All aspiring NPs in Missouri must first complete an undergraduate degree. As stated above, a majority of online NP programs—including all options in MO—require applicants to possess at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution, which includes several qualifying courses such as statistics, microbiology, and anatomy. It’s worthy of note that the University of Missouri offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN option, also known as a ‘BSN completion program,’ but this is offered primarily on campus.
St. Louis University requires applicants to have at least a 3.25 GPA in their undergraduate coursework, although most online MSN programs call for at least a 3.0. For prospective NP students in MO who don’t meet this requirement, some online institutions offer alternative methods of evaluation, including the evaluation of a clinical practice portfolio or the submission of additional test scores.
Additionally, applications to online NP programs in Missouri typically require a personal statement or essay of purpose; letters of recommendation from professors or employers; a resume or CV; and proof of immunizations or health insurance. Some applicants may also be asked for a candidate interview or proof of having achieved additional certifications (e.g., Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, CPR, etc.), depending on one’s intended specialty.
The Missouri State Board of Nursing provides a list of approved schools that offer nursing degrees in the state, a number of which offer online graduate degrees as well. Anyone who hopes to have a successful career as an NP in Missouri should highly consider applying to one of these institutions.
It’s worth noting that many online NP programs ask applicants to have completed an undergraduate programs from a school with accreditation from one of two aforementioned entities: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). The program-approval process weighs several factors in its accreditation process such as quality of program facilities; curriculum standards; and student outcomes, among other variables. Fortunately for those in MO, all programs that award online graduate degrees are CCNE-accredited.
Dr. Helen Lach teaches various courses at St. Louis University such as gerontological nursing, health promotion, disease prevention, and disease self-management. Her primary research interest is how falling and injuries affect older adults. She has a number of impressive co-authoring credits to her name, including the ‘Changing the Practice of Physical Restraint Use in Acute Care,’ published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing (2016).
Dr. Deborah Finfgeld-Connett’s main research thrusts include psychosocial issues relating to women’s health, theory development, and qualitative systematic review methods. She was published in the journal Qualitative Research (2014), and serves on several prestigious boards including the editorial board of Global Qualitative Nursing Research and the editorial review board of the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services.
St. Louis University offers three main types of online graduate NP programs: a master of science in nursing (MSN), a post-master’s certificate, or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). There are five main specializations available: adult-gerontology (acute care), adult-gerontology (primary care), pediatric primary care, family care, and family psychiatric-mental health. For the distance-based MSN and post-master’s certificate programs, students may study full or part-time and must complete between 36 to 41 credit hours, depending on their specialization of choice. Only two campus visits are required throughout the duration of studies. Classes include health promotion; advanced health assessment & clinical decision-making; ethics in nursing & healthcare; advanced pharmacology; and general research methods. The online BSN-to-DNP program requires a total of four campus visits and takes four to five years to complete with instruction in clinical informatics; project management; leadership in healthcare; principles of epidemiology; and interprofessional collaboration. Tuition for these programs costs $1,075 per credit hour.
Students at ‘Mizzou’ can pursue an online DNP in three NP different specialties, including: family care, family psychiatric & mental health, and pediatric care. According to the website, full-time study can be completed in four years, while part-time study may take five to six; students must also complete 1,000 clinical hours at preceptor sites located close to their homes. Additionally, aspiring NPs in this program must complete a minimum of 72-74.5 credit hours of graduate coursework in areas such as evidence-based practice; improvement of healthcare outcomes; and organizational & systems leadership, among others. The online DNP programs require only one campus visit per year. Impressively, graduates of these programs boast 100 percent employment within one year of graduation. Courses cost $352.50 per credit hour for graduate courses with an additional $197.20 per credit hour for graduate-level clinical units.
Maryville University of St. Louis offers 100 percent online MSN, post-master’s certificate, and DNP programs. The distance-based MSN and DNP degrees are offered in five specializations: adult-gerontology (acute care), adult-gerontology (primary care), pediatrics, family health, and psychiatric-mental health. Post-master’s certificates are available in every subfield except for PMH. The MSN and post-master’s programs feature classes such as the theoretical foundations of nursing practice; healthcare policy; professional role development; and advanced health assessment, among others. The DNP programs offer instruction in the principles of epidemiology & biostatistics; quality & patient safety in advanced nursing; and foundations of clinical scholarship. The MSN costs $781 per credit hour, taking 28 to 32 months to complete, and the DNP costs $879 per credit hour, taking 18 to 40 months, depending on one’s point of academic entry.
The UMKC offers online MSN and post-master’s certificate programs across six specializations: adult-gerontology, neonatal care, women’s health, pediatrics (acute care), family health, and psychiatric-mental health. The online DNP options are available in four specialties: AGNP, WHNP, PNP, and FNP. Students are required to visit campus once per semester for each clinical course, and additional visits may apply for the DNP portion. These CCNE-accredited programs cost different amounts depending on various factors, and tuition can be estimated using the UMKC cost calculator.
MSU of Springfield provides a hybrid DNP program, requiring weekly campus visits at the post-BSN level and only two campus visits total at the post-MSN level. Coursework includes instruction in concepts for evidence-based practice; emerging science of advanced practice; and health policy to improve health disparities, among other classes. The online portions of these programs cost $315 per credit hour, and additional tuition fees may apply for on-campus courses.
Please note that Southeast Missouri State University of Cape Girardeau and the University of Central Missouri of Warrensburg also provide MSN-FNP programs with some coursework offered online, although clinicals must generally be completed in MO, ideally in the immediate area of their host institutions.
Lastly, there is a range of other quality online NP programs available in other states which are open to MO-based students. To learn about distance-based MSN, post-master’s certificates, and DNP programs across all specializations, check out the online NP schools page.
|School Name||Program Name||Degree Offered
|Accreditor||Campus Visits Required (Yearly)||Requires ADN?||Requires BA/BS?||Requires BSN?||Requires MSN?|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Post-Master's Certificate: Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||PMHNP||CCNE||2||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Central MissouriWarrensburg , MO||MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—ColumbiaColumbia , MO||Doctor of Nursing Practice: Family Nurse Practitioner||DNP||FNP||CCNE||>3||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—ColumbiaColumbia , MO||Doctor of Nursing Practice: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner||DNP||PNP||CCNE||>3||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—ColumbiaColumbia , MO||Doctor of Nursing Practice: Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||DNP||PMHNP||CCNE||>3||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Neonatal Nurse Practitioner||MSN||NNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||MSN||PMHNP||CCNE||3||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||WHNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Adult Gerontology||Post-Master's Certificate||AGNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||FNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||PNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||NNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||PMHNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||DNP||WHNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||DNP||AGNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner||DNP||FNP||CCNE||1||no||no||yes||no|
|University of Missouri—Kansas CityKansas City , MO||Pediatric Nurse Practitioner||DNP||PNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|Cox CollegeSpringfield , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|Graceland UniversityIndependence , MO||MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||yes||no|
|Graceland UniversityIndependence , MO||MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner (RN-to-MSN or ADN bridge)||MSN||FNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||no||no|
|Graceland UniversityIndependence , MO||Certificate - Family Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||FNP||CCNE||limited||no||no||no||yes|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (BSN to DNP AGCPNP)||DNP||AGNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||AGNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||no||yes|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (BSN to DNP AG-ACNP)||DNP||AGNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner (BSN to DNP FNP)||DNP||FNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (MSN PNP)||MSN||PNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||BSN to DNP PNP - PNP Concentration||DNP||PNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Pediatric (Primary Care) Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||PNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||no||yes|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN PMHNP)||MSN||PMHNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (BSN to DNP PMHNP)||DNP||PMHNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||AGNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||no||yes|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner||MSN||AGNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||MSN||AGNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||yes||no|
|Maryville UniversityTown and Country , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Master's Certificate||FNP||CCNE||<3||no||no||no||yes|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Program||MSN||AGNP||CCNE||2||no||no||yes||no|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Program||MSN||AGNP||CCNE||2||no||no||yes||no|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Family Nurse Practitioner Program||MSN||FNP||CCNE||2||no||no||yes||no|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||MSN||PNP||CCNE||2||no||no||yes||no|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program||MSN||PMHNP||CCNE||2||no||no||yes||no|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Post-Master's Certificate: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||AGNP||CCNE||2||no||no||no||yes|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Post-Master's Certificate: Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||AGNP||CCNE||2||no||no||no||yes|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||FNP||CCNE||2||no||no||no||yes|
|Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis , MO||Post-Master's Certificate: Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||Post-Master's Certificate||PNP||CCNE||2||no||no||no||yes|
While preceptor hours aren’t required to pursue APRN licensure in MO, all graduate NP programs—including distance-based ones—require preceptorship hours. These generally range from 500 (MSN) to 1,000 (DNP). Furthermore, national NP certification organizations also require NPs to have at least 500 hours of clinical experience in their specialization. As such, aspiring NPs should perform adequate research on the requirements for their specialty area before making any final decisions.
Finally, those interested in becoming an NP should also note that Missouri is considered a ‘restricted practice’ state according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (2016). This means that ‘state practice and licensure law restrict the ability of a nurse practitioner to engage in at least one element of NP practice.’ Furthermore, the ‘state requires supervision, delegation, or team-management by an outside health discipline in order for the NP to provide patient care.’ Above all, while NPs in MO exercise relatively less professional autonomy, this may change in coming years with the increasing adoption of the DNP and lobbying efforts to grant NPs full practice authority across all US states.
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