Nurse practitioners in any state are highly qualified healthcare providers that have dedicated themselves to education and clinical training. To become a nurse practitioner, registered nurses must pursue graduate-level education and choose a specialty. With the right education and hands-on training under the guidance of licensed healthcare professionals, graduates of these programs are able to work more autonomously and provide much needed relief to an overburdened healthcare system by treating patients holistically.
Across the country, the demand for nurse practitioners is growing each year. By illustration, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2016) predicts a 36 percent increase in openings for NPs between 2016 to 2026, five times the average growth expected across all occupations (7 percent). That growth should certainly extend to the Nevada area, where timing is ideal to train as a nurse practitioner.
Fortunately for those nurses already working as RNs, it is easier than ever to pursue the advanced education required to become a nurse practitioner. Both in and outside of Nevada, there are online nurse practitioner programs available that allow nurses to work and study concurrently.
Notably, Nevada NPs enjoy relatively a generous scope of practice compared the other states. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP 2016) reported that NV is a “full practice” state in this profession, meaning the following: “State practice and licensure law provides for all nurse practitioners to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments—including prescribe medications—under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing.” Neighboring states such as California and Utah have “restricted practice” and “reduced practice” environments, respectively; in other words, NPs in those states have less independence in their occupation and require more oversight by law compared to Nevada’s practitioners.
Read on to discover one typical pathway to becoming an NP in Nevada, as well as what to expect from an online NP program and how to become professionally credentialed.
Nurse practitioner requirements vary from state to state. The following steps, which are the most common for prospective nurse practitioners, require a minimum of six years of postsecondary schooling. Additionally, since aspiring NPs typically garner one- to two-years of experience working as an RN prior to enrolling in a graduate program in nursing, becoming an NP in Nevada can take seven years or more from start to finish. Here is one possible pathway to joining this high-growth career in Nevada:
Becoming a nurse practitioner requires an undergraduate degree. As an initial step, nurses in Nevada can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) in two years, but eventually, most NPs earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), which takes four years to complete, either in a dedicated program or concurrently with a graduate degree in an RN-to-MSN “bridge” program. BSN programs include courses such as community health nursing; nutrition, health & wellness; pathophysiology; evidence-based practice; information systems in healthcare; pharmacology; and health assessment. Please note that to earn admission to an online NP program in NV, candidates typically need at least a BSN to qualify.
Upon completion of an undergraduate program, nurses must apply for their RN license prior to practice. The Nevada State Board of Nursing handles licensing for RNs, a process which includes submitting a completed application, sitting for the NCLEX-RN test, being officially fingerprinted, and submitting an application fee. Undergraduate nursing programs generally submit official transcripts directly to the NSBN to secure eligibility to take the examination. Since most online NP programs require applicants to have at least one year of experience (ideally in their intended NP specialization), RNs typically garner some hands-on time in a healthcare setting prior to applying to a graduate nursing program.
Aspiring nurse practitioners in Nevada must earn either a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree or a doctor of nurse practice (DNP) from an accredited program. The two main program-approval entities nationwide are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). The duration of these graduate programs depends on whether the nurse is able to attend a full- or part-time program. They average between two and four years of full-time study. Check out the section below on online NP schools in NV to examine typical curricula in distance-based MSN and DNP programs.
Nevada nurse practitioners must have a specialty certification in order to prove competency in their chosen population foci (e.g., adults, women, neonates, families, etc). Organizations such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), and the National Certification Corporation (NCC) offer exams for this type of certification. To qualify, candidates must show proof of their graduate NP credential, send verification of several hundred hours of experience in their specialty, and pass a comprehensive examination. Certification from one of the national credentialing bodies is required before Nevada NPs are able to earn their state APRN license.
With specialty certification in hand, nurses in Nevada are able to apply for licensing as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse through the Nevada State Board of Nursing. This requires that nurse practitioners submit a completed application; a fingerprinting card; proof of current Nevada RN licensure; transcripts from an accredited graduate nursing program with specific coursework (e.g., advanced health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics); and a $200 fee. The Nevada APRN license requires NPs to keep a professional portfolio to maintain the credential.
Those who wish to apply for prescriptive authority must do so separately through the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registration numbers, which are necessary to prescribe controlled substances, are available directly from the DEA. This credential is valid for two years.
All nurse practitioner programs in Nevada, online or on-campus, have strict requirements as to who is eligible to apply. Applicants to online NP programs must already be registered nurses in good standing with their respective boards of nursing.
During the application process, nurses should expect to submit similar applications, no matter which program they choose. These applications tend to call for the following materials:
Although some schools require GRE scores, currently there are no online programs in Nevada that have this requirement.
Some NP programs begin only in the fall, so applicants should be prepared to submit their applications early in the year (typically by March) for fall admission. Other programs offer rolling admissions, so it’s important to verify the timeline of matriculation prior to applying.
A nurse practitioner program’s accreditation status is indicative of whether it meets the educational standards of the accrediting body. In order to earn an APRN license through the Nevada State Board of Nursing, nurses must graduate from a program that has been accredited by at least one of the following:
The accreditation process involves the assessment of the program’s curriculum, faculty, and facilities. Accrediting institutions, both on-campus and online, must go through a rigorous self-assessment as well as a site visitation and/or assessment from the accrediting body itself. Contact individual accreditation bodies to learn more about the process.
There are two universities in Nevada which offer accredited online NP programs:
The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), with its campus in "Sin City," offers two online nurse practitioner programs at the master’s level: a post-master's certificate in the family nurse practitioner specialty and a master of science in nursing (MSN), also in the FNP specialty. Both programs have coursework in diagnostic reasoning & clinical decision-making; advanced health assessment; family theory & health promotion; and nurse practitioner business & roles. Although both programs are web-based, they also require a mandatory campus orientation and a one- to three-day onsite session per semester (depending on the class). For those students requiring flexibility, both programs also offer full- as well as part-time options, making it an ideal choice for nurses who want to continue working. UNLV also offers an online doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program, requiring a mandatory on-campus orientation and two additional one-day visits to hash out the student’s DNP project. Offered in both BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP formats, this program includes coursework in the analysis & economics of healthcare delivery; translational evidence for healthcare systems; and collaboration, communication & negotiation for the nurse leader.
For three years in a row, the nursing school at the University of Nevada Las Vegas was ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 percent in the nation for online graduate nursing programs. More precisely, it was ranked number 13 out of a total of 149 surveyed programs, a distinction that should be truly noteworthy for anyone considering applying.
Dr. Alona Angosta, PhD, APRN, FNP, NP-C is a tenured associate professor at the UNLV School of Nursing, where her research interests include health promotion and disease prevention focusing on obesity and cardiovascular disease, lifestyle interventions, and the intersections of health and technology. Dr. Angosta teaches in the FNP pathway and has previously taught courses such as primary care and the family; advanced physical assessment; children, adult & women’s health; and geriatric & chronic illness.
Dr. Jennifer Kawi, PhD, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE is an assistant professor at UNLV as well as a board-certified advanced practice nurse with a specialty in chronic pain management. Dr. Kawi has been the recipient of many awards during her nursing career, including the UNLV School of Nursing Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research and a Senatorial Certificate of Commendation for recognition of commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Southern Nevada.
Touro University in Henderson offers both an MSN degree and a post-master’s certificate online. Both of these programs include a family care specialty. Coursework for these programs includes pathophysiology; training in research and ethics in advanced practice nursing; and cultural understanding and population health.
Although Touro only currently has 1,400 students, it is a growing school that is aiming to meet the educational and professional needs of students and those in the surrounding community. That being said, the low faculty to student ratio contributes to the high quality of education delivered to all students, both those on campus and those who are studying at a distance.
To learn more about the wide variety of distance-based nurse practitioner programs in NV and across the country, check out the online NP programs page.
Online nurse practitioner programs do not uniformly report their campus visit requirements. Before applying to any online nurse practitioner program, prospective students in Nevada are encouraged to reach out to program coordinators to check how many on-site days are required when it’s not indicated on school websites.
Online learning can be extremely effective and convenient, but all nurse practitioner programs must also include an element of clinical experience. Before graduating from a nurse practitioner program, students must seek out a preceptor site, meaning a healthcare environment with supervised clinical instruction under licensed nursing professionals. This is completed ideally in a student’s intended NP specialization. Nevada online programs will generally offer assistance in the form of preceptor directories, but students should be prepared to find their own preceptorships. This preceptorship is required in order to become licensed as an NP in Nevada, as indicated by the NV Board of Nursing.
After graduating from an NP program and completing a national certification exam in his or her chosen specialty, nurses are eligible to apply for nurse practitioner licensure in Nevada. As mentioned in the introduction, the AANP (2017) reported that NPs in Nevada are among the most autonomous in the country and enjoy a “full practice” environment. According to the NV Nurse Practice Act, Nevada NPs enjoy a relatively independent and generous scope of practice. Among Nevada NPs’ professional privileges are:
In conclusion, becoming a nurse practitioner in Nevada may an ideal way for a nurse to expand his or her independence and pursue a lifelong career that can be both financially stable and personally fulfilling.