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Nurse Practitioner Programs in Massachusetts

Nurse practitioners: They’re not doctors, but they do some of the things that people traditionally associate with doctors. The Massachusetts nurse practitioner scope of practice includes advanced assessment, diagnosis, and treatment as well as consultation and referral. Nurse practitioners can prescribe medicines and other therapeutics. The Massachusetts Board notes that they work for various types of ambulatory healthcare center including private practices and community health settings; they also work in other settings such as long-term care facilities and hospitals.

Nurse practitioner is the most common of the five advanced practice nursing roles recognized in Massachusetts. In 2014, Massachusetts boasted 7,752 nurse practitioners, as compared to 1,252 nurse anesthetists (the second most common) and 868 psychiatric clinical nurse specialists.

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs in Massachusetts

#1: The University of Massachusetts: The University of Massachusetts-Amherst has online DNP options in family, adult-gerontology, or psychiatric/ mental health. The DNP program is ranked #48 in the nation by US News and World Report.

Other members of the UMass System are ranked separately. The University of Massachusetts-Boston, enjoys a ranking of #72.

#2: Northeastern University: It's not all primary care at Northeastern University. The school offers four specialties, among them neonatal. Northeastern is ranked #58 out of all DNP programs in the country.

#3: Regis College is a designated center of excellence, recognized by the National League for Nursing in the category of enhancing student learning and professional development. Nurse practitioner education is available at the master's or doctoral level. The college offers five NP tracks, all of which are considered primary care: family, women's health, pediatrics, adult-gerontology, and psychiatric/ mental health. Published data shows certification pass rates at or above the national average in most areas, women's health above the average by 6% over a period of several years; rates do tend to fluctuate.

#4: Simmons College offers an online family nurse practitioner program that enjoys some recognition on the national level. The program includes 672 clinical hours (48 semester hours). Students have the opportunity to supplement their study with any of a number of available cross-university courses, including public health courses from George Washington University.

APRN Educational Foundations

Professional (registered) nursing education provides the foundation. In order to advance to the APRN level, an RN must complete a program designed specifically for preparation of nurse practitioners. It must be accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency.

Most nurse practitioner programs in Massachusetts, as in other states, are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Two Massachusetts programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN (formerly the NLNAC). One Massachusetts program that boasts being shorter than the norm – just 33 graduate semester hours—is ACEN-accredited.

There is greater consensus about the number of clinical hours than the number of semester hours. A nurse practitioner can expect at least 500 clinical hours, wherever he or she chooses to go to school.

Many aspiring nurse practitioners choose to go to school online. This is widely accepted/ A nurse can even pursue doctoral education in a primarily online format. Some stakeholders push for the practice doctorate to become the standard.

Three courses are explicitly addressed in state code: pathophysiology, advanced physical assessment, and pharmacotherapeutics. All must be at the graduate level. These courses are also referenced in CCNE standards.

The program will prepare the nurse for certification in a particular population focus. Third party certification is mandatory. Massachusetts recognizes the following examinations:

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

  • Adult – Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

  • Adult – Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult – Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric – Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner

National Certification Corporation (NCC)

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner

American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation (AACN)

  • Adult - Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

See additional details: Nurse Practitioner requirements in Massachusetts

Practicing in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, prescriptive authority requires physician supervision and oversight. Nurse practitioners with prescriptive authority are under joint regulation of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and the Massachusetts Board of Regulation in Medicine. Prescriptive guidelines, written in conjunction with a physician, specify situations where consultation will be necessary. Prescriptive guidelines may also address ordering of tests (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-more-about-prescriptive-authority-requirements-and-practice-guidelines).

The Massachusetts Action Coalition, a third party organization, reported in 2014 that the requirement for supervision of practice without prescriptive authority had been lifted. Despite gains in recent years, Massachusetts is still classified as restricted practice by the AANP, its requirement for medical oversight placing it in contrast to neighboring states. Even so, Massachusetts has a high nurse practitioner job concentration. Those who advocate for easing of restrictions often bring up the issue of underserved populations. Massachusetts is a place with premier academic medical centers, high associated costs, and unmet demand for physician services. Stakeholders question: Are nurse practitioners being enticed everywhere they could be of service? Is the state making full use of nurse practitioners capability to stand in the stead of physician and to offset physician shortage?

APRN Salary

One bright spot for Massachusetts nurse practitioners is the salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average annual income of $120,140 ($57.76 an hour). This makes Massachusetts the fourth highest paying state in the country. It edges out Connecticut very slightly. The New England region tends to pay well above the national average.

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