Nurse practitioners are advanced-practice nurses who incorporate the nursing process with prescribing, treating, and medically diagnosing patients. Education is a large part of nursing, and nurse practitioners often spend a great deal of time educating patients on illness and health maintenance to improve patient outcomes.

Independence is another key part of NP practice. In Rhode Island, nurse practitioners can independently diagnose and treat (without physician supervision), prescribe medications, and can act as a patient's primary care provider.

Choosing a Nurse Practitioner Program

Prospective students should not just consider location and convenience when selecting a master's degree (MSN) or doctoral degree (DNP) program. Principal factors to consider include:

  • Accreditation- Graduate programs should be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission on Education in Nursing (ACEN) to ensure educational standards are met or exceeded. Rhode Island has three accredited graduate schools.
  • Program Cost- Financial considerations can play a huge part in selecting a school. Rhode Island residents can spend an average of $550 per credit. Out-of-state residents have a higher tuition rate. This average does not include university fees, books/ supplies, or living expenses. Students must complete up to 78 credit hours, depending on the degree sought.
  • Program Length-It can take around two-to-three years to earn an MSN, three to four years to earn a DNP depending on the student's starting point (assuming the student attends full-time). Nurses that need to earn a bachelor's degree first may have to expect a longer time frame. However, many schools offer online RN to BSN programs or accelerated MSN programs.
  • Internship/externship opportunities- While supervised clinical hours are a required part of graduate-degree programs for nurse practitioners, some choose to participate in nurse practitioner residency programs. These programs allow for graduate NPs to build on the skills learned in school, and pick up valuable on-the-job training.
  • Online/Campus options- Online learning allows nurses to work at their own pace, self-direct, and maintain flexibility regarding time. Each of the three graduate-degree programs in Rhode Island offers certain amounts of distance learning. Prospective students should visit each school's website to determine specific online learning options.

Admission and Certification Requirements

Requirements for admission to a graduate program in Rhode Island may vary between each school, but students may be required to:

  • Have a baccalaureate degree
  • Have a current RN license
  • Provide official transcripts from all undergraduate or graduate work
  • Complete a statistics course
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Submit a current resume
  • Provide letters of recommendation
  • Send a brief letter of intent to include a goal statement
  • Interview with faculty

Licensing/ Certification

Obtaining certification from a nationally recognized credentialing agency is required for licensure. Certification may include the following specialties:

  • Adult-Gerontology-Acute Care
  • Adult-Gerontology-Primary Care
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatrics
  • Women's Health
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health

Testing for certification can be done through the certifying agencies. Examples of nationally-recognized organizations include:

  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
  • The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
  • National Certification Corporation (NCC)

Additional Rhode Island licensing requirements include:

  • Current RN license, or active RN license in a Compact State
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly to the board from the educational program
  • Complete a background check and fingerprinting
  • Pay applicable fees
  • Complete the Rhode Island Uniformed Controlled Substance Act Registration (CSR) if the applicant will be prescribing controlled substances

Rhode Island Nurse Practitioner Agencies and Organizations

Nurse Practitioner Programs

For such a small state, Rhode Island offers large educational opportunities for its nurses. That along with the fact that Rhode Island NPs can practice independently and act as primary caregivers to their patients makes it a perfect place for nurses to thrive and advance in their careers.

SchoolContact Information
Rhode Island College
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 456-8000
University of Rhode Island
45 Upper College Rd
Kingston, RI 02881
(401) 874-1000