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.
How Can I Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse?
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.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse?
Today there are over 200,000 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses employed in the health care industry in the United States. The average salary is around $78,000 per year. The average salary for Nurse Practitioners is $89,634 per year. As you can see from those numbers, the more specialized the education and expertise of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, the larger salary they can earn. Government economists believe that despite the current recession, the outlook for registered nurses, especially APRNs, is very positive. They believe that the profession should continue to grow very quickly in rural and inner-city areas through 2018. Because the required amount of education will be raised in 2015 and the nation is facing a nursing shortage, job prospects are high for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. The demand is high because these professionals provide a very high level of care, yet do not cost as much as a physician to employ.