How Can I Become a Nurse Practitioner in Iowa?
What’s your favorite part of nursing? Are you happiest when you help a patient understand a diagnosis, provide suggestions regarding treatment to doctors, or help patients feel comfortable while going through a time of uncertainty? If you thrive when providing care to patients, you may be ready to step up to the next level of care by becoming a nurse practitioner. In Iowa, you may qualify for nurse practitioner licensure after earning a Master’s degree or a DNP. Each degree has specific requirements.
Average Requirements for Master’s-Level NP Degrees
- Credit hours required: 45 to 55 credit hours
- Average cost: $475 per credit hour
- Clinical hours required: Over 500 clinical hours
- Timeframe: 2 to 3 years
Average DNP Requirements
- Credit hours required: 80 to 90 credit hours
- Clinical hours required: Over 1,000 clinical hours
- Timeframe: 5 to 6 years
As a nurse practitioner, you may do a lot to make care more evidence-based, affordable, and accessible in your community. We offer a comprehensive list of NP programs to help you find the right program for your needs—contact nurse practitioner schooling options below.
What Types of Nurse Practitioner Programs Are Available in Iowa?
Although there are substantial differences between graduate and doctorate programs, there are also many similarities. You may be able to choose from several patient populations when choosing your area of specialty. Potential options include family nurse practitioner programs, adult-gerontology care, pediatric care, and mental health nursing. When you start your degree, you may enroll in a set curriculum of core courses. These courses are required for students in all areas of specialized care, as they provide a foundation for advanced nursing practice. During these courses, you complete a substantial amount of clinical experience.
In the remainder of your program, you take courses that address the needs of your chosen patient population. Courses commonly required for family nurse practitioner programs can be found below.
Course Options for Family NP Students
- Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice
- Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Throughout the Lifespan
- Research Methods for Advanced Practice Nursing
- Advanced Human Pathophysiology
- Advanced Health Assessment
- Cultural Competence in Healthcare
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Healthcare Systems
- Primary Care of Adults
- Primary Care in Pediatrics
- Evidence-Based Nursing Practice
In addition to clinical practice, you should get experience in other ways. Though neither the Master’s degree nor the DNP are research-based programs, it is important to be able to interpret and apply research as an advanced practitioner. In certain courses, you may analyze existing research, learn about ongoing studies, and come up with ways to apply research to your practice. Many programs have learning outcomes that relate specifically to research and evidence-based care.
Some programs do accept non-nursing Bachelor’s degree graduates, but most programs are designed with working nurses in mind. If you need a lot of flexibility in your nurse practitioner programs, online options may be ideal. Online programs allow you to complete your theory education online, so you only have to do your clinical hours in person.
How Can I Pay for Nurse Practitioner School in Iowa?
If you are employed as a registered nurse, you may qualify for employer assistance. Some Iowa employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement to their nursing staff. You can also look into the following options after being accepted to a school.
Nursing Scholarships and Grants
- BestNursingDegree.com scholarships: Four times per year, BestNursingDegree.com awards scholarships worth $2,500 each. There’s always an application cycle going on, so make this one of your first stops.
- NURSE Corps Scholarship Program: Selected students receive large scholarships in exchange for two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area after graduation.
- NHSC Loan Repayment Program: Getting rid of student loans can do a lot for your finances. Up to $50,000 of your loans are paid off if you are chosen and you dedicate two years to an NHSC-approved location.
- Iowa Advanced RN Practitioner Loan Repayment Program: This five-year state program repays up to $4,000 per year.
- Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society: Student members of this group can apply for scholarships of $2,500.
Licensing and Practice Requirements for NPs in Iowa
In Iowa, licensing goes through the Iowa Board of Nursing. They require NP applicants to have an RN license, a graduate degree from an accredited school, and national certification in a specific area of practice. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports that Iowa gives full freedom of practice to nurse practitioners.
Nurse Practitioner Careers in Iowa
Nurse practitioner licensure can open up many career paths for you, allowing you to find a work environment and schedule that fits your needs. You may choose to work in a clinic, providing urgent or preventive care to people in your patient population. If you specialize in acute care, you may want to work in an emergency care setting. With experience and reputation, some nurse practitioners opt to open their own practices in Iowa.
Since the primary care shortage is affecting most of the country, this may be an excellent time to become a nurse practitioner. From 2014 through 2024, O*Net anticipates a 28% boost in nurse practitioner job openings throughout Iowa (2016). On average, Iowa NPs earn $94,310 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). This is significantly higher than the average salary for a registered nurse in Iowa.
Whether you want to work with mental health patients, children, adults, families, or another group of patients, you may find that becoming a nurse practitioner helps you reach your goals. When it comes to nurse practitioner degrees, Iowa schools have many exciting options for skilled, passionate nurses to evaluate.
Are you ready to take the next step in your nursing career? Explore your options now by contacting Iowa nursing programs below.
NP programs for Iowa nurses include:
- Briar Cliff College. Located in Sioux City, Briar Cliff offers a master's-level family nurse practitioner program that's geared to working nurses. Courses are held in the evenings, allowing students to work during the day. The program typically takes three years to complete.
- University of Iowa. The pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) program at the University of Iowa has been recognized as one of the best NP programs in the country: U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the PNP program sixth in the nation. Plus, the school just converted all of its NP programs to doctoral programs, in recognition of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's recommendation that all nurse practitioners entering advance practice be prepared at the doctorate level by 2015.
- Allen College. Allen College in Waterloo offers a master's-level family nurse practitioner program. The school also actively helps its NP grads find employment after graduation.
Iowa nurses who are interested in distance learning may want to check out the online NP program available through Georgetown University.