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Nurse Practitioner Programs in Delaware

Delaware’s nurse practitioners are doing their part in making sure that the state’s residents have access to good care, whoever – and wherever – they are. This is no small task in a time of increased healthcare practitioner demand.

Nurse practitioners are often involved in primary care. Some have special training in mental health. Others have specialized training geared toward a narrower popular group (e.g. neonatal). They may work as part of hospital teams.

Delaware’s nurse practitioners are recognized as primary care providers. They may provide primary care in various settings. The Nurse Managed Primary Center operating under the banner of the University of Delaware is illustrative; it utilizes nurse practitioners to deliver services such as immunizations, chronic disease management, and treatment of illness and injury.

Organizations find different ways to enable people to do their early detection and wellness screening -- even sending professionals like nurse practitioners out by van. News articles and press releases spotlight new healthcare facilities -- and the myriad ways nurse practitioners are used. Christiana uses nurse practitioners as part of the team that brings healthcare out into the community. The new Milford Treatment Center, meanwhile, utilizes different types of healthcare professional, including a psychiatric nurse practitioner, to implement multi-faceted treatment for a population that includes opioid users, among others with substance abuse and mental health needs (http://www.wmdt.com/news/delaware/brandywine-counseling-opens-milford-treatment-center/756668838).

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs in Delaware

#1: The University of Delaware provides opportunity to achieve credentialing as a family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, or adult-gerontology nurse practitioner -- and to earn a DNP in the process. A partnership between the University of Delaware and Jefferson University allows Delaware nurses to earn neonatal nurse practitioner credentialing.

#2: Wilmington University offers family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology degree a little quicker --with a degree at the master's level. Courses are delivered in a traditional academic setting.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners work under Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) licenses. This means they are in the same license category as other nurses with advanced clinical training such as certified nurse midwives. RN licensure is a prerequisite.

According to state code, Delaware nurses can complete their nurse practitioner training through a master's degree, DNP or post-basic certificate. In today's world, nationally accredited nurse practitioners all into two categories: degree programs and post-master certificate programs; the latter are designed for professionals who already hold a master's degree in nursing.

Prospective nurse practitioners are required to seek national certification. This means that the program must meet standards of one or more recognized certifications. There is a level of consensus that nurse practitioner training requires academic education at the graduate level. While some content is considered core, other coursework is specific to the population. Completion of a course of study with a particular population focus will in turn qualify the nurse to take a particular certification exam or exams. A family nurse practitioner course of study, for example, qualifies a person for the family nurse practitioner exam offered by the AANP or ANCC.

A future nurse practitioner who will be seeking prescriptive authority will need 1) advanced courses in health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics and 2) coursework in diagnosing and managing health problems within his or her clinical specialty area. This is standard coursework in modern nurse practitioner programs. The CCNE accrediting agency, in fact, mandates discrete courses in assessment, pharmacology, and physiology/pathophysiology, noting that each must be at the advanced level.

There are two CCNE-accredited nurse practitioner programs in Delaware. It is imperative that students select programs that are accredited by a legitimate organization. Nationwide, accreditation by the ACEN is also relatively common. (More: Nurse Practitioner requirements in Delaware)

APRN Scope of Practice

Scope of practice and level of regulatory control vary by state. Delaware grants more independence than many states; laws passed in 2015 significantly altered the practice environment.

Delaware nurse need collaborative agreements for the first 4,000 hours of practice; the minimum timeframe is two years. The collaborator may be an individual physician or a licensed healthcare delivery system. Podiatrists also qualify. In some cases, nurse practitioners will need more than one collaborative agreement. Delaware requires one for each employer or practice.

Nurse practitioners who have completed their collaboration requirement can seek authorization for independent practice. This authorizes practice outside of an established healthcare organization, delivery system, or physician- or podiatrist-owned practice.

Prescriptive authority carries a specific continuing education requirement. General prescriptive authority is for non-controlled substances. A Delaware nurse practitioner can prescribe many controlled substances, but additional registration is required.

Delaware has Master of Science (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nurse practitioner programs. Family practice tracks in both programs include multiple classes focused on primary care and multiple practicums. Both programs include coursework in evidence-based practice. The DNP program includes a substantive project completed over multiple semesters. It includes several courses in population health. Programs around the nation have slightly different offerings while staying within framework of national standard setters.

APRN Salary in DE

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists an average salary of $105,380 ($50.66 an hour) for Delaware nurse practitioners. A full-time nurse practitioner at the 10th percentile earns $82,140 while one at the 90th percentile earns $136,700. This assumes 40-hour weeks.

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