When exploring a career in nursing, one of the first things candidates notice is the variety of options available. There is a hierarchy of nursing positions that range from Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) to the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). Within those ranks exist specialties that allow nursing candidates to further concentrate on healthcare areas of interest.
In this article we will explore:
- What is an ARPN?
- Popular types of APRNs
- Differences between APRNs and NPs
- How to become an APRN/NP
- APRN and NP job and salary outlook
What is an APRN?
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are near the top of the nursing ladder. The only nursing positions that rank higher are Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nursing professionals and CNOs.
An APRN is an important part of the healthcare system in the U.S. APRNs are licensed Registered Nurses (RNs) who hold a master’s level or doctorate level degree in a nursing specialty. Once they complete their education and become certified, APRNs can assess, diagnose, and manage patient problems. They can also order diagnostic tests and procedures and prescribe medications – including controlled substances – in all states and territories within the U.S.
The nursing scope of practice outlines all the duties APRNs can undertake when licensed to practice in the U.S. APRNs can work in health clinics or hospitals helping with all aspects of patient care for both adults and children. Some states allow APRNs to work independently, while others require supervision from a physician. Nurses should check with their state licensing boards to determine if their state of practice allows full autonomy.
Popular types of APRNs
As previously mentioned, there are APRN specialties, each with specific education, experience, and certification requirements.
One of the most popular types of APRN is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). FNPs work with patients of all ages to emphasize wellness programs. They treat patients much the same way as a physician. FNPs can assess patient health, diagnose conditions, and prescribe medication when appropriate. There are three types of practice environments for FNPs: full practice, reduced practice, and restricted practice. The National Academy of Medicine and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing recommend FNPs work in a full practice environment.
Other popular types of APRNs include:
1. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners
Acute Care NPs work in healthcare environments that serve patients who need immediate medical treatment because of illnesses or injuries. Since some states allow APRNs to work without direct supervision, they can help alleviate crowded emergency rooms and trauma centers where patients who require immediate assistance go for treatment.
2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
Neonatal NPs care with newborns who are born prematurely, injured after birth, or develop a serious illness. They provide advanced care for neonatal patients that includes assessing a newborn’s physical condition and prescribing medical interventions that can include incubators and prescription medications.
3. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women’s Health NPs focus on the healthcare needs of women. They work in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and clinics that provide gynecological, obstetric, and reproductive health services to women patients.
Differences between APRNs and NPs
To put it simply, Nurse Practitioners are a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. There are similarities and differences between APRNs and NPs. Let’s take a look at some of the most common.
|Nurse Practitioner||Advanced Practice Registered Nurse|
|Education||Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)||Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)|
|Duties||Assess, diagnose, and treat acute and chronic illnesses. Act as a primary care medical provider (in some states).|
Provide referrals for specialized care.
|APRN duties vary depending on the specialty chosen.|
|Common practice settings||Ambulatory clinics|
Long-term care facilities
Private medical practice
|APRNs can work in any healthcare setting, including hospitals and private medical practices.|
|Licensing & certification||Certification varies depending on nursing specialty. Nurses can seek appropriate credentials through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). All NPs must seek licensure from the Board of Nursing in their state of practice.||APRNs must hold a valid RN licensure from their state of practice. In addition, they must seek certification from the ANCC or other certification bodies that align with their chosen nursing specialty.|
|Continuing education requirements||NPs must renew their certification every five years. To qualify for recertification, NPs must have 1,000 hours of clinical practice within 5 years and 75 contact hours of continuing education that is relevant to their nursing specialty.||Continuing education requirements for APRNs depend on their chosen specialization.|
|Prescribe medications||Yes, but the type of medications and the level of supervision is determined by the Board of Nursing or other licensing agency for the NP’s state of practice.||Some APRNs have prescriptive authority depending on the states where they are licensed and their specialization.|
How to become an APRN/NP
The steps to becoming an APRN or NP are very similar. Nursing candidates must first earn an advanced nursing degree. They can choose to complete their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) education all at once or become a licensed RN and then work in the field while earning their advanced degree. There are bridge programs that can help cut down on time spent in school:
After earning an MSN, candidates must complete required clinical hours and then pass a national certification exam. Several national accreditation organizations offer APRN certification according to nursing specialty.
The final step is to become a licensed APRN in the intended state of practice. Requirements for APRN licensure vary by state, so it is best to check with the licensing agency to ensure all obligations are met.
APRN and NP job and salary outlook
APRNs earn annual salaries between $90,022 and $111,345 depending on location and experience. The top five wage-earning locations for APRNs include:
San Francisco, CA – $123,169
New York, NY – $118,538
Boston, MA – $111, 019
Washington, D.C. – $109,689
Chicago, IL – $104,535
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for APRNs will increase by 45% between now and 2030, which is significantly faster than the national average for all other occupations.
NPs earn on average annual salaries of $114,510 depending on location and experience. The top five wage-earning locations for NPs include:
Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville, FL – $164,180
San Francisco, CA – $151,660
Spokane, WA – $150,040
Alexandria, LA – $144,010
Peabody/Salem/Beverly, MA – $142,730
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for NPs will increase by 45% between now and 2030, which is significantly faster than the national average for all other occupations.
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