Advanced practice nurses or advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are a hugely important part of the overall healthcare workforce. They have a lot of responsibilities in terms of both clinical and managerial practice. They are well compensated for this, with average salaries of $104,740 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Demand for APRNs is growing rapidly, with the BLS reporting an expected 31% growth from 2014 to 2024.
Of course, this makes the profession very interesting for many people. Most also feel that it is worth the financial investment required to complete a master’s degree in nursing, which is the MSN (master of science in nursing). However, most nurses do not get into the profession because it earns a lot of money and gives them job security. They do it because they genuinely care and have a passion for improving health across the board. So what are some of the things you can do as an APRN?
1. You can work in a range of different healthcare settings. These include clinics, schools, nursing care facilities, physicians’ offices, and hospitals.
2. You can work directly with patients, taking steps to improve their overall health and well-being. These include diagnosing, performing examinations, ordering tests and reading the results, maintaining records, evaluating progress, dispensing medication, and more.
3. You can work directly with the public, acting as an advocate for and liaison between patients, their families, and their medical staff. Additionally, you will often play a counseling role, helping patients to understand what is happening with regards to their health.
4. You will be able to hold a lot more responsibilities, because you can be an expert in various areas, such as record keeping; evaluation of healthcare, planning and implementation; and diagnosis and assessment.
5. You can break the glass ceiling and no longer be a subordinate of doctors. Rather, you will become autonomous in your work.
6. You can take part in research projects to improve the overall healthcare system.
7. You will be seen as a mentor and leader to other nurses within the healthcare facility in which you work. This will give you the opportunity to directly influence outcomes for patients. It has been demonstrated that this provides APRNs with a great deal of job satisfaction and pride in their own skills.
8. You can choose a specialization so that you can focus your skills on your areas of personal interests. The recognized APRN sub-specializations are:
- Certified Nurse Practitioner, who provides clinical care and takes part in research
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, who provides assistance during surgical operations
- Certified Nurse Midwife, who provides care to women who are trying to conceive; offers antenatal and postnatal care; and assists during deliveries.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist, who specializes in a certain type of clinical medicine
9. You can choose to focus on specific population groups if that is where your interests lie. These include the elderly, women, or children.
10. You can focus your skills on a specific type of disease, illness, or health problem, becoming a true expert in that field.
11. You can focus your skills on a specific type of care, such as rehabilitative or psychiatric.
12. You may, depending on where you practice, work autonomously. Sixteen states currently allow APRNs to operate without physician collaboration or supervision.
13. You will be allowed to dispense medication in 45 of the 50 states, which means you will essentially hold responsibility for the full cycle of care of the patients you are looking after.
14. You can work all over the country, and even internationally, which includes volunteering for important organizations such as Doctors without Borders, enabling you to be a first responder in areas of conflict or disaster.
15. You can expand your knowledge and scope of practice through further education, even going so far as completing a doctorate degree, which will enable you to conduct independent research, or to become an educator of the next generation of nurses.
16. You will have greater flexibility in terms of your work schedule, and it is unlikely that you will have to work unsociable hours, unless in a situation of extreme need.
17. You can move outside the realm of physical practice and towards mental health and psychiatry. The psychiatric mental health nurse is becoming increasingly recognized as a type of APRN in its own right. Breaking through the stigma of mental health disorders and ensuring that patients are looked after both physically and emotionally is something more APRNs are taking great pride in.
18. You can become a public health nurse. This means that you move outside of the realm of nursing practice, and into local, state, or federal government. In this role, you will drive policy and ensure entire populations benefit from the work and research you perform.
19. You can improve your own health and well-being, and that of your family. Because you will have such extensive knowledge in terms of healthy behavior and health consequences associated with different environments, you will be able to apply that to yourself and those near you as well.
20. You can drive the shaping of the new healthcare system. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and various Executive Orders by the new president to repeal it, it is likely that the healthcare sector will once again go through significant changes. As an APRN, you can be at the forefront of this, ensuring that any new developments do not mean that there is a reduction in quality of care.
What the above items have in common is that they all give you the ability to make a greater impact on the lives of individuals, the loved ones of patients, and the community as a whole. Your role will go above and beyond providing an excellent standard of care. It is about ensuring that future patients will receive even better standards of care. As an advanced practice nurse, you hold it in your hands to shape the healthcare industry through your extensive skills and knowledge, making a real difference in the lives of people across the country and beyond.
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
- Expanded Roles for Advanced Practice Nurses. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/apn-roles
- Advanced Practice and Certification. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.rn.ca.gov/applicants/ad-pract.shtml
- Eileen T. O’Grady. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses: The Impact on Patient Safety and Quality. In R.G. Hughes (Ed.). Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. (2008, Apr.) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2641/