Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

What Does an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Do?

The term Advanced Practice Registered Nurse is a general title granted to those registered nurses that have completed advanced educational and clinical requirements, usually a master’s degree at the least.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses can be employed in a wide variety of positions and locations, from hospitals to community clinics and private practices. Under the APRN umbrella are Nurse Practitioners that are able to act independently of physicians, Certified Nurse Midwives that provide midwifery skills for pregnant women and newborns, Clinical Nurse Specialists who are experts in diagnosing and treating illnesses, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists who are specialized in administering anesthesia.

Each of these four professions can also have specialized subsets or concentrations, like pediatrics, geriatrics, neonatal and more.

These professionals generally possess a wider knowledge of patient assessment and planning, implementation, diagnosis and evaluation of patient care. Their roles and responsibilities are varied, but all draw from the advanced level of education they earn.

What is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)?

An APRN, or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, stands at the zenith of the nursing profession. These registered nurses possess advanced training, typically beyond a bachelor’s degree, which allows them to carry out many tasks traditionally reserved for physicians. Such professionals might have the authority to prescribe medication, order medical tests, and diagnose health issues.

Qualifications and Job Duties

APRNs are distinguished by their advanced education. In addition to their Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN), they also possess a Master’s degree (MSN) or even a Doctorate (DNP) in Nursing. These degrees equip them with specialized knowledge in a particular patient population or area of healthcare.

Master’s or Doctorate degreeEnables specialization in a particular patient population or field of healthcare
National certificationValidates knowledge in the chosen specialization
Registered Nurse (RN) licenseLegally enables practice of nursing
APRN licenseAllows for advanced practice above standard RN duties

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that APRNs earn a median salary of $115,800 per year, substantially higher than that of Registered Nurses. This field is projected to grow 31% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than most occupations.

  • High earning potential
  • Rapid job growth
  • Versatility in healthcare settings
  • Abundance of opportunities in various specializations

How to Become an APRN

Earning the distinction of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse requires students to earn an advanced education above the required amount to become a registered nurse. This means that after earning a registered nursing degree at nursing school, APRNs must also earn at least a Master’s Degree as well.

Currently, there is a movement in the health care industry that will require APRNs to earn a Doctorate in Nursing Practice beginning in 2015. This additional education is believed to meet the ever changing medical need of patients, as well as changes in the health care industry.

A doctorate education can take a student up to seven years to complete, so it should not be entered into lightly. On top of the education requirement, some specialties, like Nurse Practitioners, must also take a state mandated board exam to become licensed and certified.

The path to becoming an APRN involves multiple stages of education and licensure:

  1. Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a Registered Nurse
  3. Gain experience in a nursing role
  4. Earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree
  5. Pass a national certification examination in your chosen specialty
  6. Obtain licensure in your state as an APRN

Benefits of Being an APRN

Being an APRN offers substantial rewards, both professionally and personally:

  • Increased Autonomy: APRNs enjoy more independence in their work compared to RNs.
  • Higher Earnings: Due to their advanced skills and responsibilities, APRNs typically earn more than RNs.
  • Wide Scope of Practice: APRNs can specialize in various healthcare fields, opening up a wide range of career paths.
  • Advanced Knowledge: APRNs’ extensive education equips them with a deep understanding of healthcare, enabling them to provide high-quality patient care.

Typical Places One Works

APRNs work in various healthcare settings, providing a breadth of services:

  • Hospitals: APRNs often provide direct patient care, lead medical teams, or even manage departments.
  • Clinics: Here, APRNs might provide primary care services to individuals and families.
  • Private Practices: In these settings, APRNs usually work in specialized roles, such as family, pediatric, or geriatric care.
  • Research Institutions: Some APRNs work in research, contributing to advancements in healthcare.
  • Educational Institutions: APRNs might teach in nursing programs, sharing their expertise with future nurses.

These varied settings allow APRNs to choose a work environment that best suits their interests and career goals.

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