Advanced Practice Nurse Career Guide


Since the ages, the field of nursing has dedicated itself towards the survival of generations. When we talk about nursing, one of the names that come to mind is Florence Nightingale. She dedicated herself to provide services for the heroes of Crimean War. This was something that enabled her to go beyond limits. Thus, the return of it was such that today the field of has turned into a diversified field and is respected all over the world.

Advanced practice nurses are related to the field of registered nurses who may have gained advanced training for expanded clinical practice. Career of an advanced practice registered nurse comprises of nurse midwives, acute care nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse anesthetists. They together play a pivotal role within the health care settings. Generally, APRNs are at the forefront of providing preventative care to the general public as well as typically primary care suppliers. It is the responsibility of the advance practice nursing to provide facilities of healthcare in collaboration with the healthcare professionals and doctors.

What is an Advanced Practice Nurse?

An Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) is a nurse who has been educated at the Master’s degree level of education or beyond. APN’s often specialize in a certain patient population or medical practice area, and they are qualified to evaluate, diagnose, order tests and prescribe medications. APNs are responsible for maintaining practice competencies through ongoing continuing education and licensure renewals.

There are four types of specialized APN’s in the United States. Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP) work in a broad range of practice areas including Primary and Acute care settings. CNPs can work as primary care providers for a broad range of patient populations and address a wide spectrum of medical concerns.  A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is an APN who specializes in one area of practice. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologists (CRNA) provide anesthesia-related care to patients in various healthcare settings. A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is an APN who specializes in women’s healthcare across the lifespan.

Advanced practice nurses can be found in settings across the healthcare field, including emergency departments, primary care and urgent care clinics, home health care, specialty medical practices, community clinics, and private offices. Due to their training and competencies, APN’s are in high demand and have extensive opportunities to practice across an array of challenging practice areas.

What Does an Advanced Practice Nurse Do?

Advanced practice nurses are registered nurses that have a master’s degree and expanded clinical competencies to provide patient care. Each type of advanced practice nurse provides specialized care that goes beyond what a registered nurse does. Different types of advanced practice nurses include nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialist.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are licensed clinicians who focus on preventing disease and managing patient’s health conditions. Nurse practitioners may specialize in areas, such as family practice, gynecology, and oncology.

Responsibilities of a nurse practitioner are often similar to a physician. Nurses may assess patients, perform physical exams, and order diagnostic tests. For instance, nurse practitioners may order an echocardiogram to diagnose a heart condition. Nurse practitioners also prescribe treatment, such as medication, physical therapy, and dietary recommendations.

Certified Nurse Midwives

Certified nurse midwives are also considered advanced practices nurses. Certified nurse midwives care for women from preconception through pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Midwives may provide prenatal counseling, pregnancy care, and assistance during labor and delivery. For example, nurses may perform exams and routine prenatal tests, such as ultrasounds and blood work. They may also provide postnatal care including breastfeeding instruction and baby care tips. Some certified nurse midwives also provide routine gynecological care, such as pap tests, breast exams, and provide birth control counseling.

Nurse Anesthetists

Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses that administer anesthesia to people who are undergoing medical procedures, such as surgery. The work of a nurse anesthetist starts before surgery. For example, nurses review a patient’s medical history to check for contraindications for anesthesia. They also provide information to patients on anesthesia side effects.

During surgery, nurse anesthetists administer epidurals, nerve blocks, and other types of anesthesia. They also insert breathing tubes and monitor vital signs during surgery.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist is an advanced practice nurse that may provide patient care or be involved in research, nurse management, or administration. They typically have an area of expertise, such as working with the elderly or children. They may also specialize in a certain area of medicine, such as cardiology, pain management or pulmonology.

Although they can provide patient care, clinical nurse specialists are often involved in management, research, and education to improve care and patient satisfaction. For example, duties may include researching better ways to control pain in cancer patients or improve quality of life after a stroke. Nurse specialists may also educate nurses on new protocols, which improve patient care.

Why Do We Need Advanced Practice Nurses?

Advanced practice nurses are essential members of the healthcare team for a variety of reasons. Advanced practice nurses have additional education, training, and expertise, which allows them to provide more specialized care than registered nurses. In the past, that specialized care was usually provided by doctors. But there is a growing number of medical specialties that have a shortage of physicians.

The American Association of Medical Colleges expects there will be a shortage of about 90,000 doctors by 2025. Doctors specializing in primary care and family practice are predicted to especially be in short supply.

Fewer doctors may be choosing to specialize in family practice, which may be causing a shortage. There is also an increased demand for healthcare as advances in medicine results in people living longer. Overall, there is an increased need for medical care but fewer doctors available to provide services.

Because advanced practice nurses are more than just registered nurses, they can perform a variety of different services. In some cases, they can provide many of the same services as doctors and fill the void left by a shortage of physicians. Without advanced practice nurses, countless people would not have available healthcare services. The wait time to receive medical care would likely increase.

What are the Educational Requirements to Become an Advanced Practice Nurse?

After graduation, a nurse practitioner must take national certification exams. Mostly it depends upon the university you are enrolled as well as the state regulations. Becoming an advanced practice nurse, may mostly require a master’s degree. As in the most cases, you may also be required to have a state license for becoming a nurse besides earning a master’s degree. If you may already have Bachelor of Science in nursing, a master’s degree can probably need an extra 2 years of education. However if you are an RN, you might need BSN to get enrolled in master’s degree program.

A nurse getting ready to become a nurse practitioner should complete courses associated with the direct care of people, as well as pharmacology, differential diagnosis, clinical decision-making and medical therapeutics. You may also opt for an online nursing degree, in case you may not be able to achieve a conventional campus based education. Thus it may also turn out to be fruitful as far as money and time saving is concerned. Thus you may continue with the daily affairs, without disturbing your education.

What is the Career Outlook for Advanced Practice Nurses?

The outlook for advanced practice nurses is excellent. Although the number of job openings may depend on the specific area of practice and geographic location, the demand for advanced practices nurses is projected to be strong national wide. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, all four advanced practice nurse specialties are expected to grow much faster than average. Nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists may especially be in demand.

According to the BLS, the field of advanced practice nursing is expected to grow by about 31 percent through 2025. The need for advanced practice nurses is due to an increased emphasis on preventive care. There is also an increased need for healthcare services for the aging population.

As healthcare costs climb, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are developing strategies to decrease costs. Hiring advanced practice nurses instead of physicians can be cost-effective without reducing the quality of care.

What is the Salary for Advanced Practice Nurses?

The scope for advanced practice nurse is not a limited one by any means. It includes handsome salary as well as the job growth. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for a registered nurse, as of May 2016, is more or less $72,180.

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