Nurses are in high demand in West Virginia. According to a 2019 report from the state's Center for Nursing, West Virginia's projected demand for nursing professionals in the coming years far outstrips the expected supply of nurses. Individuals who are considering entering the nursing industry face a positive employment outlook in West Virginia.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are nurses who take on additional responsibilities, such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medication. Because of their advanced role, they must complete one or more advanced degrees and continue to study pharmacology throughout their careers.
This resource includes a list of nurse practitioner programs in West Virginia, along with general information about the NP profession. Read on to learn how to earn and renew nursing licensure and obtain prescriptive authority. We also cover career and salary data for NPs in the state, along with the various specializations and sub-specializations available to NPs. You can read more about those specializations here.
Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Based in West Virginia
All NPs in West Virginia must hold a graduate degree in nursing to become licensed. Candidates who enroll in NP programs in West Virginia may earn either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) programs.
Most candidates begin by earning a master's degree, then pursuing a doctorate to gain a more advanced understanding of their field.
Most candidates begin by earning a master's degree, then pursuing a doctorate to gain a more advanced understanding of their field. However, many prospective NPs decide to stick with a master's degree since it allows them to enter the field more quickly. Candidates who complete a four-year bachelor's degree and a master's typically spend six years in school. Doctoral programs may last 3-4 years. However, advanced nursing students can also find BSN-to-DNP programs that allow them to skip their master's and go directly to a doctoral program.
Most NPs choose a specialty while pursuing a graduate degree. For example, many NP programs in West Virginia offer concentrations in family and pediatric care. Students should take their specialty into serious consideration, because it often determines their national certification and career path.
While some NP programs in WV offer courses online, most curricula include some on-campus components.
While some NP programs in WV offer courses online, most curricula include some on-campus components. Some programs might require students to come to campus for presentations or discussions. Nearly all include a required practicum or clinical component, which students must complete onsite.
Typically, NP programs in West Virginia require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and a valid registered nurse (RN) license. Many admissions departments also set a minimum undergraduate GPA for applicants.
Complete List of Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in West Virginia
West Virginia Nurse Practitioner Career Information
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), West Virginia NPs draw a mean annual salary below the national average NP salary of $110,030. NPs in West Virginia earn almost $10,000 less, bringing in a mean annual salary of $100,690.
The number of NPs in West Virginia continues to increase. Reports from the West Virginia Center for Nursing indicate that NP positions grew by nearly 17% between 2015 and 2017. According to Projections Central, an online initiative from the U.S. Labor Department, the state's job growth rate for NPs is projected to increase by 33.6% between 2016 and 2026.
Nurse Practitioner Salary and Projected Job Growth in West Virginia and Nearby States
Licensure for Nurse Practitioners in West Virginia
Nursing professionals need an advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) license to work as NPs. To obtain an APRN license, candidates must hold a registered nurse (RN) license, earn a graduate degree, and attain national certification in a specific healthcare area by passing a national exam.
Candidates must earn either an associate or bachelor's degree to pursue an RN license. Prospective NPs should choose the bachelor's degree route, as bachelor's programs better prepare students for graduate-level studies. Candidates must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam to receive RN licensure.
Concentrations prepare candidates to pursue a specialization in the field, focusing on areas like family, pediatric, neonatal, adult-geriatric, or psychological and mental health care.
After passing the NCLEX-RN exam, nurses may pursue an MSN or a DNP. While a doctorate may lead to higher salaries and leadership positions, many NPs choose to earn a master's degree, which allows them to enter the workforce more quickly.
Most nursing students choose a concentration during their graduate studies. Concentrations prepare candidates to pursue a specialization in the field, focusing on areas like family, pediatric, neonatal, adult-geriatric, or psychological and mental health care. After graduating, prospective NP candidates take a certification exam within their specialization. Candidates may pursue credentials from accredited certifying bodies approved by the West Virginia state board.
After candidates earn an RN license, a graduate degree, and national certification, they may apply for APRN status.
Other Requirements for West Virginia Nurse Practitioners
APRNs must renew their licenses every two years, on June 30 of every odd-numbered year. Nursing professionals must complete at least 24 contact hours of continuing education each year to renew their licenses. Twelve of these hours should focus on clinical management practice. West Virginia allows several different possibilities for continuing education hours, including courses from professional associations and colleges. RNs can also complete their required hours by reading academic journals. While NPs do not need to submit records of these hours when they apply for renewal, they should document their reading hours in case of an audit.
West Virginia allows several different possibilities for continuing education hours, including courses from professional associations and colleges.
In addition, NPs must apply separately for the legal authority to prescribe medication, which is known as prescriptive authority. To qualify, NPs need to complete a graduate-level course in advanced pharmacotherapy that includes at least 45 contact hours. Typically, around half of an NPs' annual continuing education hours should cover pharmacotherapeutics. They must also obtain a collaborative agreement with a physician.
At the start of their careers, NPs fill out an initial application for prescriptive writing privileges, which they can find on West Virginia's nursing portal website. NPs can apply for prescriptive authority without a collaborative agreement after three years of practice.
Information for Out-Of-State Nurse Practitioners
West Virginia participates in the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC is an agreement between states making it easier for nurses to move from state to state without reapplying for licensure.
While RNs can transfer their licenses between participating NLC states, they must still apply for APRN licensure in West Virginia and fill out the same application forms as other out-of-state candidates. They must also meet the same educational requirements, and earn national certification from an approved credentialing agency.
Conversely, prescriptive authority laws differ from state to state. NPs who move to West Virginia from out of state may not have completed the requirements needed to obtain initial prescriptive authority. In this case, they may need to complete extra coursework in advanced pharmacotherapy. This website provides more information about how prescriptive authority varies between states.
Resources for West Virginia Nurse Practitioners
West Virginia Rural Health Association The WVRHA is a nonprofit organization focused on providing rural West Virginians with quality healthcare services. Members can access a job search portal and read annual workforce supply and demand analysis reports.
West Virginia Nurses Association This professional association offers free and discounted continuing education courses. Members can also search the association's career center and access exclusive online resources.
West Virginia Center for Nursing Created through the state legislature, this research center focuses on West Virginia's nursing industry. In addition to publishing reports on workforce data, the center offers scholarships and other resources for students.
Future of Nursing West Virginia This advocacy group promotes the nursing industry's interests through the state legislature. Members can participate in online courses and attend an annual gala and workforce summit.