Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) may be the right choice for licensed registered nurses in New York looking to take on more responsibility and specialize further in an area such as women’s health or adult gerontology. Nurses looking to become a nurse practitioner must first complete a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree and, to join the ranks of the more than 13,060 people (BLS 2016) who already work as NPs in New York, complete a clinical preceptorship and seek licensure and certification.
Stony Brook University has been approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) as having an academic program that qualifies applicants for NP licensing in the state. Also, Stony Brook offers multiple NP programs at the master’s and post-masters level that are almost entirely online. Upstate Medical University, in Syracuse, also offers two online NP programs.
There are also other schools with a national focus, such as Rush University and Frontier Nursing University, that offer online nursing education that has been approved by NYSED for New York residents.
Usually, there are basic steps to follow to become a nurse practitioner in New York, but these can vary depending on the background, education and current nursing experience of the individual. Students may be able to fast track their educational path by completing different degrees at the same time, but these bridge options may not be available through many online schools in New York. From start to finish, the process to becoming a nurse practitioner in New York could take six to seven years (including a bachelor’s level degree) or more, in some cases, if students enroll part-time.
Students interested in the nursing field can start their education by completing a diploma or associate degree program or finishing a four-year education through a bachelor’s degree. Depending upon what they complete in these programs, they may be eligible to sit for either the NCLEX licensing exam to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN). Often, but not always, a two- or four-year degree is needed to be able to sit for RN licensure.
After students have passed their NCLEX-exam, they need to apply for licensure at the LPN or RN level within New York. This is done through the Office of Professions and necessitates completion of a number of requirements that include:
LPN applicants need to be at least 17 years old while RN applicants must be at least 18 in New York. Nurses who already hold a nursing license in another state have to follow many of the same steps, but also provide a verification of licensure from that state.
In general, to become a nurse practitioner in New York, individuals need to complete a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) degree, although registered nurses who already have education at the graduate level may be able to complete a post-master’s certificate or even their doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
Typically, there are several courses that are foundational to NP degrees across the country, including advanced assessment and advanced pathophysiology. At the NP level, students also choose a specialization area, like women’s health or family practice, which helps them qualify to later seek certification of their skills and knowledge from a national organization, like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), in their chosen area of specialization. The options for NP specialties will vary by school.
The DNP, or doctor of nursing practice, is the terminal degree for practice-oriented nurses like nurse practitioners. On average, a doctoral degree will take another two years of schooling beyond the master’s degree, however time to complete either degree will depend on a variety of factors, including whether the student attends full-time or part-time. Also, there are online BSN-to-DNP programs for aspiring nurse practitioners that allow a registered nurse with a BSN degree to progress all the way to a DNP as rapidly as possible. Such programs are by nature credit-hour-intensive programs that require the completion of several more academic credits than an equivalent BSN-to-MSN program would.
In New York, students generally have to complete their education at a school approved by the New York State Education Department or take other steps to be able to apply for NP licensing in the state. An application, licensing fee, certification of education and verification of a national nurse practitioner exam are among the requirements for applying for NP licensing in New York.
Admission requirements will vary by school in the state of New York and this will be true whether the programs are online or on campus. Many of the requirements used in the list below are those needed to seek admission to the Stony Brook School of Nursing, which offers a variety of online programs at the master’s and post-master’s certificate level.
Most students need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing to be considered for admission at the graduate level. However, at some institutions, including Stony Brook, those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree could be considered after submitting a clinical practice portfolio. Students also need to have their registered nurse (RN) license, one year of experience and three letters of recommendation. Students also will want to submit their transcripts along with their application.
Some nursing schools do require students to submit GRE scores, but this it not the case at Stony Brook. However, interested individuals should have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA when applying. However, many other schools may require proof of some type of test scores. The admissions page for master’s level nursing programs at Upstate Medical University, however, does not indicate that GRE scores are necessary for their program either.
Students may need to complete other steps to be admitted to or upon admission into a program. This is true at Stony Brook, for which students need to submit materials that include a curriculum vitae, proof of health insurance and student nurse practitioner malpractice insurance, and a certificate of basic life support (BLS) for healthcare providers following acceptance.
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) maintains a list of approved, and registered, programs that are offered at the master’s and the advanced certificate level in the state. These approved programs have been examined by the Professional Education Program Review unit of the Office of the Professions and met specific standards as far as accreditation. Stony Brook is one of the approved schools and it also offers online education.
Students who do not attend an approved NYSED program may have to take other steps to quality for NP licensing in the state. Part of this process could be to seek NP certification through one of numerous organizations listed on the website, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center, National Certification Corporation, Pediatric Nursing Certification Board or others. The NYSED website should be viewed for more details and clarity on this topic.
The website also lists approved programs at other levels, including diploma, associate, bachelor’s and doctoral. All of the registered programs are broken up into eight different regions in the state. Because nursing schools programs are often accredited either by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), these accreditations are noted by asterisk on the NYSED website. Individuals interested in NP nursing careers should know that graduation from an accredited school may be necessary to sit for national NP certification or a requirement in some states to apply for NP licensure.
Tammy Austin-Ketch, PhD, RN, FNP-C, FAANP is a clinical professor at SUNY Buffalo who is the assistant dean for the MS/DPN programs. She oversees the Capstone I and Capstone II courses at the DNP level at the school and is a fellow of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). She has been published multiple times and recognized as a clinical faculty scholar and distinguished alumni of the school.
Barbara Sprung, DNP, RN, NNP, PMHCNS-BC is the program director for the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Distance Education program at Stony Brook. She is both a certified Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and a certified Family Therapist. She has her own private practice and has been a clinical preceptor for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner graduate students doing clinical hours at her place of business. She obtained her DNP in mental health from Stony Brook in 2008-09.
Dr. Sprung’s seminal contribution to clinical nursing scholarship is ensuring that mental health care is an integral component of health care for vulnerable populations. Her expertise in psychiatric advanced nursing practice and family therapy supports working with patients that have both physical and emotional/behavioral issues.
In her role as Program Director of the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program in the School of Nursing, Dr. Sprung secured a $1.3 million federally funded grant to boost the work force of mental health providers who can work with youth at risk. This grant also enhanced and expanded the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner curriculum. This included novel clinical placements to secure experiences consistent with the integrative and family-centered care of populations at risk for psychiatric illnesses.
Dr. Sprung’s efforts in the “trenches” with students highlight the trends in health care that she has always promoted and encourage students to become advocates for those who are suffering. Her students report unanticipated personal growth and increased confidence in delivering mental health services to populations at risk.
There is just one school in New York that is New York-based, offers nearly 100 percent online education and is approved by the NYSED: Stony Brook. Of course, any needed clinical hours (through which students gain hands-on skills in a real-life setting) have to be completed at an actual healthcare facility as well. Upstate Medical University now also offers two online NP programs, one with a family nurse practitioner specialization, the other with a family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner specialization.
Stony Brook University offers online MSN and post-master’s certificate programs for nurse practitioners with a variety of available specializations. Specifically, students may focus on adult-gerontological care, family health, neonatal health, pediatric care, or psychiatric-mental health. Students may also focus on nurse-midwifery.
As part of the SUNY system, Stony Brook is widely regarded as one of the best schools in the area. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the master’s program as 56th in the nation and the DNP as 50th, among a large field of eligible institutions. In addition, in its 2017 ratings of best nursing schools in the country, College Factual ranked Stony Brook 57th out of a total of 508 schools nationwide.
These programs make use of evidence-based practices in their curriculum. Limited contact is required on campus at Stony Brook although students will need to complete practical hours in a physical location at a healthcare facility. Stony Brook does not guarantee the availability of any specific sites.
Patricia Bruckenthal, PhD, APRN-BC, ANP, was inducted as a fellow in October 2014 during the annual policy conference of the American Academy of Nursing in Washington, D.C. She was among 168 nurse leaders inducted in 2014.
Two master's degrees are available via distance learning through Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York. This includes the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program and Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (FPMHNP). The school also offers a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) for those who already are master-prepared NPs.
Finally, there is a handful of distance-education programs that have been approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), but that are not New York-based. Those that are listed below have at least half of the requirements available through distance education, according to the NYSED website. These include:
Individuals interested in enrolling in online NP programs in New York may want to know if campus visits are necessary throughout the length of their program. There is no one answer to this, as this may vary based on a number of factors, including the number of credits the student has yet to complete, whether they are completing a full degree program or a post-master's certificate, and whether the program requires in-person, on-campus intensives for practical components. In order to qualify as an online program in our table below, instruction must be delivered 100% online or with minimal campus visitation (no more than 9 campus visits for the duration of the program). In every case, NP students will need to complete a preceptorship at a convenient, close-to-home location, however it is very important to verify this with online programs of interest prior to enrolling.
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) does not specific the number of preceptor hours needed to be able work as an NP in the state, but does specify that applicants need to be RNs in the state. Additionally, applicants need to have graduated from an NP program that is approved by the state or have NP certification through a national certifying agency.
Applicants can be certified in one of many different areas, or multiple areas, including: acute care, adult health, community health, gerontology, neonatology, oncology, pediatrics, women’s health and many others. Students who do not graduate from a New York-approved school may be able to follow other steps to work toward NP licensure in New York. Either the Nurse Practitioner Association of New York State or the New York State Nurses Association can be contacted for more information. A full list of approved nursing programs – at every level, not just the master’s NP level—is available on the NYSED.gov website
NPs in New York work under what is described by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) as a “reduced” practice environment. This means that the ability of NPs to engage in at least one element of NP practices is reduced. Also, in order for an NP to provide patient care, a regulated collaborative agreement with an outside health discipline is necessary, according to the AANP. According to NYSED, this means that NPs do not need to practice under the supervision of a physician, but they do need to have a written collaborative partnership with a physician working in the same practice area.