What Are The Top RN To NP Programs In 2023?

picture of student getting their NP from RN
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
December 18, 2022

The number of registered nurses (RNs) transitioning to nurse practitioners (NPs) continues to increase, exceeding the number of newer physicians completing their training in the coming years. The significant change from RNs to NPs is good news for the healthcare system. At the same time, they are providing new opportunities for nurses to explore their careers while remaining cost-effective for healthcare facilities

But why are so many RNs transitioning to NPs? This article will go more in-depth about the differences, the path to transitioning, and what top RN to NP bridge programs are the best. 

What Are The Differences?

Firstly, let's get to know what an RN is. An RN, the registered nurse, is a nurse that coordinates and provides care, education, advice, and emotional support to patients and families. An RN has many responsibilities to take care of, and their duties often depend on where and who they work with. How much does an RN make? The median pay, recorded in 2021, is $77,600.

Secondly, what is an NP? An NP, aka nurse practitioner, is an advanced practice registered nurse. NPs have many responsibilities, similar to RNs, but have more specialties in their specific field. What are these responsibilities? An NP has daily tasks such as recording medical history, updating medical records, collecting samples, and documentation, performing detailed examinations, prescribing medications, and managing other nurses (CNAs, LPNs, and RNs). As mentioned before, there are nurse practitioner specialties. For example, a family nurse focuses on family care. Many others include women's health, adult gerontology, and psychiatric mental health. How much does an NP make? The annual median salary is estimated to be $120,680.

What are the key differences? To start, what is the difference between an RN's and an NP's average salaries? The answer comes out to $43,080. NPs receive a higher annual salary than RNs. Another key difference is their responsibilities. While it doesn't seem like much, NPs have the role of prescribing treatments, ordering tests, and diagnosing patients. RNs usually work under physicians as they help determine patient care.

How To Go From An RN To An NP?

Many nurses today want to advance their nursing careers. Stepping up from an RN to an NP is the next most significant step a nurse could take. Many RNs begin with their completed diploma, entering RN to NP bridge programs. Many nurses also use online RN to NP programs and courses. Whatever path you choose, you may have questions before starting.

  • How Long Does It Take To Become An NP?
  • Students are usually expected to complete 2 to 4 years of study within the program, which opens for RNs with 1 to 2 years of experience. Students experience in-depth training that is required to become licensed. NPs are well-paid and in very high demand. Expectations are very high in these programs, so you're expected to put in your best efforts.
  • Is It Harder To Become an NP Than An RN?
  • The content and courses may be more challenging than what is usually taught to nurses. You will learn more advanced topics in-depth and participate in training that requires much knowledge. It is a huge step up from an RN.

Top RN to NP Programs

According to The American Association of Nurse Practitioners, there are around 400 accredited NP programs in the United States. Identifying the best program for you may take time, depending on your location, specialty, and tuition. A few recommended programs like:

  • Walden University
  • Offers online programs that specialize in teaching psychiatric mental health, gerontology acute/primary care, and family nursing. The program can be done online, and it is the number 1 provider of advanced nursing degrees in the United States.
  • Georgetown University
  • Offers online programs that specialize in teaching acute gerontology care, family nursing, women's health, and midwifery. 
  • Purdue University Global
  • Offers online programs that specialize in family nursing, gerontology acute/primary care, and psychiatric mental health. It provides hands-on learning, creating a career pathway and preparing you for the future.

Consider the factors before choosing a program, and take the next step in your nursing goals.

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Miranda Kay, RN
Blog published on:
December 18, 2022

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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