Advanced Practice Nurse

Advanced Practice Nurse – Is This The Career For You?
An advanced practice nurse is a Registered Nurse and also holds a Master or Doctoral degree in their chosen nursing specialty. These professionals enjoy more latitude and independence in decision making. The certification APN can apply to several types of advanced nursing degrees.

The Advanced Practice Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

The APN may specialize in one of many fields including some not mentioned. Necessarily their roles and job descriptions will change according to the advanced practice nursing specialty chosen. However, what follows is a very short rundown of the four most common nursing paths chosen by an Advanced Practice Nurse.

Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – This specialist is permitted to administer anesthetics including local, general, conscious sedation, and general anesthetics.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – These Registered nurses are part of the prenatal care as well as home deliveries for pregnant women. This profession requires an advanced Master Program in Midwifery as well as clinical practice under a licensed instructor.

Nurse Practitioner (CNP) is a Registered nurse who has completed a bachelor degree in nursing, as well as a Master level program. These professionals provide routine primary care and are permitted to write prescriptions or make referrals to specialists.

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are nurses who have chosen to specialize in a particular area such as neonatology, ICU, psychiatric nursing, pediatrics, OB/GYN care geriatrics or other fields. Often, these professionals are in administrative positions.

Providing affordable and yet quality health care has been a growing concern over the last several decades. The Advanced practice nurse is a feasible answer to cutting the growing cost of health care and yet providing exceptional care for patients. An advanced nursing degree allows the Registered nurse can give the RN a greater body of knowledge to work with and  many specialties such as Nurse Practitioners have independent practices. An advanced practice nurse who has chosen a Nurse Practitioner specialty may provide most common health care services without the direct oversight of a physician.

How to Become an Advanced Practice Nurse

Careers in general nursing can be extremely satisfying and an advanced practice nurse need not leave the clinical setting entirely. These highly trained nurses instead possess a greater depth of knowledge in their chosen specialty which allows them to impact patient’s lives in a more positive and long term way.  A four year Bachelor of Science nursing degree is a prerequisite for any Advanced Practice Nursing degree. The nurse can choose to begin preparing for advanced practice nursing as soon as they are accepted into nursing school or they may choose to redirect their career at a later point.

Advanced Practice Nurse Education Requirements, Certifications, and Schooling Programs

• Successfully complete a four year nursing program from an accredited nursing school this requires a high school diploma or GED and passing the college entrance examination.

• Pass the state board examination to obtain a Registered Nurse’s License

• Select a specialty program such as Nurse Anesthetist or Nurse Practitioner

• Successfully complete the 2 to 4 year program for the advanced practice nursing specialty sought.

• Pass the certification examination for the applicable advanced specialty, such as the Midwife certification or Nurse Practitioner examination or Anesthesiologist Nurse. Advanced practice nurses receive certification through the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). Advanced nurses can obtain certification in several different areas including Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Nurse Anesthetist (NA), Nurse-Midwife (NMW), Nurse Practitioner (NP), Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse (PMH) and Public Health Nurse (PHN). Applicants test in the area of their specialty and must pass the exam in order to become certified. Many of these disciplines do not require certification, but most hospitals and health clinics prefer to hire certified professionals.

Many of these programs also require an internship period before becoming eligible to take the certification examination. An advanced practice nurse can further specialize in a sub-specialty and become a pediatric nurse practitioner or a family nurse practitioner. Most nurses will select a sub-specialty before entering their Master’s program.

Advanced Practice Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
Nursing is a career which is experiencing a crisis shortage of qualified providers. APN professionals (advanced practice nurses) are in even more demand than the common Registered Nurse. Because the APN is a key to quality lower cost health care these professionals can be found in urban settings, rural communities, hospitals and clinics. Job growth for the advanced practice nurse is expected to exceed 21% through the year 2020. The average salary of an advanced practice nurse is from $80,000 per year upward and can be as much as two to three times that of a RN without an advanced degree.