Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Archive

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Nursing careers can also involve meeting additional specialist nurse education requirements besides the generalist nurse training for baccalaureate or associate degree nurse graduates.  This kind of advanced education enables nurses to choose a career line with one group of patient as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). To become an advanced practice nurse, you must have attained at least a registered nurse status and enroll into a Nurse Specialist Program. These specialized programs are only offered to interested students at graduate level (Master or Doctorate).

Who is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)?

Advanced practice nursing represents nursing at its best; characterized by registered nurses who have received advanced and specialized training and mandated to carry out highly specialized and autonomous nursing roles. So what is Advanced Practice Nurse? An APRN is a registered nurse who has earned at least a masters level education and specialized in one area of nursing. Precisely, APRNs are registered nurses who have received certification in any of the four areas listed below:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Advanced practice registered nurses enjoy more independence in their line of nursing as compared to registered nurses without graduate-level education. Some APRN have doctorate degrees besides master degrees.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Job Description

What is Advanced Practice Nursing? The role of the Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner is varied. As listed above, an  APRN can have distinct specialized duties depending on the specialization area they choose from the four. Besides sharing the commonality of APRN status, two of the four APRNs roles have sub-categories from which further APRN job descriptions can be derived. On a broad base, the following are the job descriptions of each of the APRN roles listed above.

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

A CRNA is an advanced practice nurse who is permitted to administer anesthesia during surgery. Usually, a CRNA will work autonomously or under the collaborative effort of an anesthesiologist.  They are therefore found in operating rooms working hand-in hand with doctors to ensure proper pain management and sedation before, during and after surgery. 

Many hospitals prefer having a CRNA as they serve both as nurses and anesthesiologist than employing the latter separately.  During surgery, a CRNA must be aware of the length of the surgical process to determine which type of sedation to use. They can also make decisions on whether to sedate the patient completely or locally. CRNAs must also follow-up surgery patients to ensure they completely recover from the side-effects of anesthesia administered before surgery.

  • Certified Nurses Midwives

As the name suggests, certified nurse midwives help moms to be through the birthing process.  They also highly trained on advising mothers in caring for the newborns. They are knowledgeable in prenatal care provision, management of labor and neonatal and primary care of newborns. Certified nurse midwives receive their training at advanced levels such that they can deal with minor complications arising from pregnancies or abnormal births. In this case, they can perform minor medical procedures like medical prescription, postnatal therapy and carry out simple diagnosis. 

Basically, they provide midwifery services to women whose birthing condition can be termed as stable or non-risky.  However, for complicated medical situations on part of the mother or newborn during the birthing process or after, CNM ought to consult obstetricians or gynecologist doctors. The specific roles of certified nurse midwives may vary from one state to the next.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS)

A CNS is a registered nurses trained at an advanced level in providing nursing care in a specific nursing area. Clinical nurse specialists are one of the two APRNs roles with numerous subcategories. Due to the intensive training they receive, CNS can become consulted by registered nurses on their specialty roles. The core competences of CNS include decision making, direct clinical practice, clinical leadership and advising for patients and families at large.

 CNS can choose their area of specialization from the perspective of patient groups, medical setting or type of medical disorder involved which makes them experts in the area they have chosen. According to patient groups, pediatrics, adult health, adolescents and geriatric CNS exist. Under the medical setting path, CNS can be operating room nurses, Intensive care Units nurses, long term care nurses etc. Depending on the medical disorder, there are diabetes nurses, oncology nurses, mental/psychiatric nurses, palliative nurses among others.

  • Nurse Practitioners (NP)

Nurse Practitioners are a group of APRNs with highly diverse subcategories in their fields of practice. Nurse practitioners provide generalized health care and are more likely to be the sole health care practitioners for most patients. They are well endowed with carrying out diagnosis and giving prescription and medications to patients on an autonomous basis. Most NP work alone as the primary care givers to a particular patient population. They are usually found working as Family NP, Adult NP, Mental Health NP, and Pediatric NP among other fields.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Salary

Salaries of APRNs differ from state to state just like in any other profession. APRN salaries are determined by the experience of the registered nurses at their given specialty and the level of education attained i.e. Master or Doctorate. APRNS enjoy lucrative salaries as compared to their registered nurses counterparts and the figures can be as much as twofold.   Coming-up with a precise average salary scale is not easy as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), does not separate salaries of undergraduate-level registered nurses from these of APRNs. 

But it is common sense that APRNs earn significantly more than registered nurses whose annual mean was $64690 in 2010. However, BLS gives a very rough estimate that nurses with diagnosing and treating mandate (like APRNs) have a mean salary of $71490. From various reviews, APRN reportedly earn well above 95000 on the top 10 percentile. Over the years, California and Texas have recorded the highest paid registered nurses.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)  Education Requirements

To earn an advanced practice nurses status, registered nurses must complete master or doctorate level education. Most registered nurses become APRNs after taking the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and becoming prepared for the Master of Science in nursing (MSN) specialty roles.  Most MSN programs that train nurses to become APRNs demand that students have valid registered nurses licenses besides having some working experience in nursing roles.

 After such requirements are met, students enroll for graduate level core nursing courses during the first year. Usually during the 2nd year, the RN must take specialty courses in the area of specialization they want to concentrate on; any of the four APRN choices above. For the 2 APRN roles with various sub-categories, students take specific courses in the particular line of interest.

APRN education usually takes 2 years on a full time basis and between 3-6 years on a part time basis. However, the CRNA option takes a longer time than any of the other options even on a full time basis. It also requires more work experience particularly in surgery or operating rooms. Following completion of the college curriculum, nurses must be ready to take separate National Certification exams in their respective fields of practice. Only then can they be termed as certified advanced practice nurses.

Advanced Practice Nurses Association

Actually, most nursing associations are those for specialty nurses with an APRN status. Every sub-category of advanced nurse practice has an association or more at national or state level. Some of the most renowned APRN associations include:

  • National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
  • American College of Nurse Midwives
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners
  • Cardiovascular Association of Advanced Practice Providers
  • Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association
  • National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
  • Nurse Practitioners in Emergency Care
  • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

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