5 Tips for MSNs Looking to Become Nurse Practitioners


Strategic tips for achieving a Nurse Practitioner certification and advancing your nursing career.

Careers in nursing should be tailored to match your interests, career goals, and unique life circumstances. The nursing landscape allows significant room to advance and hone your skills, increase your earning power, and specialize in specific areas that are of the most interest to you.

Pursuing a role as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) can therefore be a strategic move. Although becoming an NP can take a bit of foresight and planning, this article will flesh out several strategic tips for achieving a Nurse Practitioner certification and advancing your nursing career.

What is the Difference Between an MSN and a Nurse Practitioner?

The 2 nursing career types in question—MSNs and NPs—are both achieved through postgraduate education. However, the 2 roles differ functionally from each other. As a rule of thumb, earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree generally prepares an individual for roles that are often administrative, managerial, or leadership oriented.

MSNs often take positions such as Nurse Administrators, Clinical Nurse Leaders, or Nurse Executives. Alternatively, NPs receive training that is geared towards advanced technical care provision. NP roles are often more “hands-on” and integrally focused on patient care. The 2 roles lend themselves to different skill sets and interests. Thus, if you are currently practicing as an MSN and are interested in making a career change, your career goals might be better met by pursuing an NP role.

Five Tips for Pursuing Nurse Practitionership

1. Plan With the End Game in Mind

Gaining a proactive understanding of the specifics of different nursing education options will expedite your career advancement and help you land in the role that best fits your strengths. Nursing educational pathways are complex and multifaceted. The more you know about yourself, what you’re looking for, and what various nursing positions offer, the better you’ll be able to position yourself and decide what path is optimal for you. Planning ahead and being proactive in your learning will benefit you as you consider becoming an NP.

2. It’s Never Too Late to Look for Scholarships

Nursing scholarships can come in a wide variety of formats and offerings. If you are contemplating engaging in further schooling (eg going back to school for an NP degree or certification), it’s always worth exploring available opportunities for scholarship funding offered for nursing education.1

3. Talk to Current NPs to Better Understand What You Should Expect

Lived experience from current NPs can sometimes provide more helpful insights than any other amount of research. NPs that are already practicing in their field can share what their jobs are like, what educational route they chose, what they would recommend or not recommend, what they might change if they could go back and do it again, and more. Reaching out to an NP or 2 and asking if they would be willing to share about their experience can often yield helpful and enlightening advice in your decision-making process.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

Negotiation is an opportunity for nursing professionals of all types that many individuals leave on the table. If you are already working in a nursing role, negotiating with your current place of employment could create opportunities to decrease your weekly hours slightly to make schooling more accessible, make funding available to lessen the financial burden of your educational endeavors (if necessary), or help you access shadowing opportunities.2

You never know what might be possible unless you ask. And approaching the negotiation table with concrete ideas for how your requests might benefit not only you but your employer as well can increase your rate of success considerably and open up huge opportunities.

5. Be patient

Achieving a career as an NP won’t happen overnight. However, the move can yield a uniquely rewarding and fulfilling career, especially for individuals whose interests and skill sets lend themselves towards advanced practical care rather than more administrative positions within the field of nursing. Taking the time to obtain the credentials and experience necessary to pursuing NP positions can be a rewarding step and help you achieve the nursing career that fits you and your strengths.


  1. Nurse Practitioner Scholarships: A Guide for MSN Students. Norwich University Online. February 4, 2022. Accessed March 31, 2022. https://bit.ly/3LvkM5P
  2. Contract Negotiation for Nurse Practitioners: Tips, Resources, and Salary Calculator. Duquesne University School of Nursing. February 10, 2021. Accessed March 31, 2022.https://bit.ly/3tUchLs
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