Advance Practice Nurses are nurses that have attained a graduate-level education, such as a Master of Science in Nursing degree either through a campus-based or online nursing program, including accelerated nursing programs, and have passed the NCLEX-RN examination. Alternatively, before new guidelines were put into place by AACN, advance practice nurses could hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with enough post-graduate certifications and experience to fill the requirements for APN’s. These nurses can work within administration and management positions, autonomously within private practices in some states, or provide a wide spectrum of care to patients facing specific medical concerns, illness or injuries.
Within advance practice nursing, there are four main designations that are standard across the country. Each of these can be further developed, depending on the areas of specialty for the nurse.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – provides care to women of all ages with specific regard to reproductive health. Puberty, pregnancy, post-partum and menopause-related care are all responsibilities of the CNM, in addition to the immediate care of a newborn after delivery.
Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) – provides care to a variety of people based on the specialization chosen, including adults, geriatric patients, mental health, women, and pediatrics. These nurses are governed by the same regulations of a registered nurse, per the individual state board of licensing.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) – performs within a more administrative and managerial role, helping to increase better patient outcomes throughout a variety of medical systems, while assisting with the procedures of diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – as the most specialized designation of the APN role, these nurses administer and monitor medications to patients to help control and alleviate pain during procedures or within pain management guidelines.
While a wide range of concentrations are available within the role of the advance practice nurse, the main specializations define the overall role of these medical professionals. Through graduate-level education, post-graduate certifications and experience, advance practice nurses are able to provide specific medical care to patients facing distinctive health concerns.