Nursing is perhaps more important than it’s been at any point in history. Right now, the demand for credentialed nurses far outweighs their supply. And that was before COVID-19. The current situation demands a far greater number of medical professionals and will continue to do so throughout the next decade. There has been a greater need for nurses long before this, but now that need has risen drastically and acutely.
A few of the factors that have been previously influencing this trend include:
- Nurses are taking on exponentially more comprehensive roles and responsibilities in practicing and delivering medical services.
- The disproportionately large Baby Boomer generation is getting older and requiring more care, which is increasingly falling on nurses shoulders.
- Medical systems are shifting. There are endless medical providers, who are incentivized to deny care or provide less expensive care to patients. This means more work for nurses without doctors’ supervision, which would be more expensive and require more labor.
- A national shortage of doctors leads to a greater demand for nurses.
- More Americans than ever before have some form of insurance, leading to more gross hours of medical work for practitioners.
- There’s a shortage of enrollment slots and faculty at nursing schools in comparison to demand for qualified nurses.
- All of these trends have led to the rise and prevalence of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.
Becoming a nurse is immensely difficult. It requires years of demanding study, hard labor, and the ability to put instant gratification aside. You’ll need to deal with emotional trauma, and meet high standards maturely. The physical and mental toll of this work can’t be overstated.
- What are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses? What Do APRN’s Do? How Do You Become One?
- What is a Master’s in Nursing? What’s a Master’s of Nursing Curriculum Like?
- What Are the Different Roles APRN’s Fill?
- Ask Yourself and Examine the Following About Your Nursing Education and Career
- How Can We Help You Find a Nursing Degree and Better Understand the World of Nursing?
- What Can You Expect to Earn as an APRN? What’s APRN Employment Like?
However, for the triumphant in this field, working as a nurse presents a rare opportunity in the modern Western world. Unlike many positions, you’ll play an active role in determining and increasing the quality of life for countless patients. Working as a nurse is a peerless opportunity for anyone committed to leaving the world a better place than they found it.
In this guide, we’ll explore a subarea of nursing: Advanced Practice Registered Nursing. We’ll look at the degrees that prepare you to work in it, the different roles that exist that fall under the APRN umbrella, and help you decide if and what in it is right for you. We’ll also showcase the work we’ve done at Best Health Degrees to prepare and propel you towards an education and career in nursing. Finally, we’ll look at potential earnings and employment for APRNs.
So what are APRNs?
What are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses? What Do APRN’s Do? How Do You Become One?
APRNS are nurses who have at least a Master’s degree in nursing. They can earn further certifications. Most importantly, their education and training proves they have extensive and expansive skills knowledge, and experience in:
- Assessing patients and medical issues
- Planning forms of treatment
- Implementing those plans
- Diagnosing specific maladies
- Evaluating necessary care
- Among other responsibilities.
APRNs can become specialists or generalists. In their education and training, they’ve proven they can integrate practical choices, theoretical understanding, and experiential learning. These integrations help them make independent judgment calls and crucial choices in their medical interventions.
Some of their most basic, universal responsibilities include:
- Managing care of groups and individual patients.
- Collaborate with patients and their families to improve outcomes.
- Fostering a cohesive, supportive environment for patients and colleagues.
- Protect the rights of individuals and groups.
- Actively improve nursing practices however they can.
- Foster and encourage caring and therapeutic relationships.
- Live up to the standards of conduct in nursing.
- Consistently develop themselves and others professionally.
- Adhere to any laws that govern nursing, whether they’re local, state, federal, or common law.
The most common designation for APRN’s are Nurse Practitioners. A Nurse Practitioner or NP might work with a particular population, like neonates, adults, or women.
The other three types of APRNs are:
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
To qualify in one of these roles you’ll need a degree (coming up next), accreditation from a governing board (either in your state or nationally), and certification (usually conferred through an exam and meeting a threshold of hours of practice met).
All four of these APRN types can have further concentrations in specific fields or populations. We’ll delve into these roles further in section three.
For now let’s take a look at the significant degree that all APRNs need to complete as a foundational credential, a Master’s degree in Nursing.
What is a Master’s in Nursing? What’s a Master’s of Nursing Curriculum Like?
One thing we should note is that there is a push by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and others to encourage APRNs to earn a doctoral degree. Eventually, APRNs will likely need a doctorate to qualify for roles in this area of nursing. So far this is a recommendation, although the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists will require compliance with it by 2025.
However, this does mean that a Doctor of Nursing Practice is increasingly becoming a desired credential for people working as APRNs. Because it’s not required, we’ll focus on Master’s of Nursing, but keep in mind this shift in advanced nursing education is ongoing.
Many schools that offer a Master’s of Nursing will facilitate your doctoral education.
To qualify for entry to a Master’s in Nursing program, you’ll likely need to have completed a Bachelor’s program and hold a registered nurse license in good standing. You might also be asked to interview, have completed a certain amount of clinical work experience, and have a background in a specific area, depending on what you want to do.
You might specialize in one of the four types of APRN work we’ve discussed, or a further subset of one of them. For example, some of the more specific roles you might fill could include mental health nurse, advanced practice psychiatric nurse, nurse educator, nurse administrator, among others. It’s common to complete a thesis as a culminating experience in these programs.
Master’s in Nursing programs can be vastly different from one another. However, there are some areas you’ll likely study across the graduate nursing landscape. These curricular areas include:
- Nursing Leadership in Advanced Practice
- Nursing Theory
- Nursing Research
- Healthcare Financial Management
- Legal and Regulatory Aspects of Nursing
- Evaluation of Nursing Education
In these programs you’ll likely improve your:
- Clinical Skills and Experience
- Communication and Cooperation Skills
- Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Abilities and Experience
- Understanding of Compliance with Proper Ethics and Nursing Regulations
- Healthcare Business Practice Comprehension
- Ability to Take Command of a Variety of Situations
- Among other skills and aptitudes.
Graduates of these programs can work as APRNs, educators, and researchers, among other positions, like:
- Nursing Director
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
Now let’s dive into the different types of APRNs:
What Are the Different Roles APRNs Fill?
There are four major types of positions for APRNs. Let’s cover each in-depth:
Nurse Practitioners are APRNs that take a holistic approach to healthcare. They emphasize the well-being and health of a person through health promotion, education and counseling, and disease prevention. They help people make healthy choices that lead to better outcomes and reduced costs for patients.
Nurse Practitioners look at detailed health histories of patients. They diagnose, treat, and mitigate acute and chronic illnesses. They act as primary care providers for patients and can prescribe medicine.
They must initially earn Bachelor’s degrees and become RNs but eventually complete Master’s or Doctoral degrees. They need advanced clinical training beyond their RN certification and experience. Nurse Practitioners take clinical and academic courses to work in acute care, long-term care, primary care, and other settings.
They must earn national certification, periodic peer review, clinical outcome evaluations, and more. Nurse Practitioners need to be vigilant in their professional development and self-directed ongoing learning to maintain their position.
Some of their responsibilities include:
- Counseling patients
- Education patients on best health choices, and disease prevention
- Managing patient care
- Prescribing medicine and treatments
- Diagnosing and treating a range of conditions like injuries, infections, diabetes, high blood pressure, and much more
- Ordering, completing, and analyzing diagnostic tests like x-rays and lab work
They can also work in specialty areas like family health, acute care, adult health, oncology, pediatrics, neonatal health, and more.
Also known as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), these nurses administer anesthesia to patients in preparation for surgical, traumatic, and obstetrical procedures. They stabilize patients, handle pain management, and supervise recovery. They work closely with surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, anesthesiologists, and other health professionals.
They must be versed at applying injections, inhalants, and oral anesthetics. They then monitor patients closely during procedures and afterward track patient recovery. CRNAs work with doctors and other medical professionals to determine what pain management programs are best for specific patients during procedures and in recovery.
To enter these roles, you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree, to become a Registered Nurse, work for approximately a year, and only then join a CRNA Master’s degree program. After completing it, you’ll be qualified to take a certifying exam from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). After passing this, you’ll be eligible for a license in your state. In total, this process can take between 7-9 years if you’re starting at the beginning.
Also known as Certified Nursing Midwives (CNMs), nurses in these positions can be compared to OB/GYN doctors. Their training and approach are different, but they help deliver babies, do gynecological checkups, assist families in planning their futures, and help with prenatal care. They work to ensure babies are born safely and naturally. They monitor and manage labor, and – in circumstances that call for it – can help doctors in assisting C-section deliveries.
CNMs counsel, educate, and offer comprehensive follow-up care to new parents, especially mothers. They can teach mothers how to care for newborns, including breastfeeding. They provide primary and specialty medical care to women, and in some states, prescribe medicine. They might treat STDs, and offer care and support during perimenopause and menopause.
Some nursing midwife positions don’t require a graduate degree, but over 80% of people working in this field have one. CNMs, which qualify as APRNs, need one. You have to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, become a Registered Nurse, and then have a year of experience before you qualify for a Master’s in Nursing that’s accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). There are approximately 40 of these ACME-accredited programs. After completing one of these programs, you’ll need to pass a national certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) and receive certification.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Clinical Nurse Specialists are APRNs that work in a specialty of their choice. They prioritize evidence-based approaches, follow and conduct clinical research, and work in a variety of areas like:
- Community Care
- Mental Health or Psychiatric Nursing
- Acute Care
- Women’s Health
- Adult Gerontology
- Adult Health
- Among others.
To qualify for one of these roles, you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree, an RN license, and time spent working as an RN. You’ll then need a Master’s degree in one of these areas and certification once you complete it. You’ll also need 500 supervised hours of clinical work in the CNS role, and with the population, you’re interested in working in. These requirements will prepare you for state licensing. In addition to clinical practice, nurses in these roles are educators, mentors, and advocates.
Now let’s look at how you should decide what role in nursing is right for you and what specific degree program you should pursue to excel:
Ask Yourself and Examine the Following About Your Nursing Education and Career
- What have you accomplished so far in your nursing career? Which of the APRN roles do you feel most called towards?
- What specializations do individual APRN programs offer? As you know, there are four major types of APRN work, but also subsets within those.
- When it’s time to choose a Master’s in Nursing program, deeply consider what populations and forms of medicine you’ve been drawn to and suit your strengths.
- Depending on what you’ve already done, you may need to start at the beginning, with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. If you’ve already completed that and are a licensed RN with work experience, you can begin pursuing a Master’s in Nursing.
- Make sure any program you’re considering is properly accredited. Do your due diligence and read reviews from students, and whenever possible seek them out to get a better sense of any prospective nursing program.
- Write to support staff and faculty members whenever possible to ask questions about any nursing program you’d like to commit to.
- How long can you commit to a Master’s in Nursing degree program each day, week, and in total before you complete it? Many nursing programs are set up to allow nurses to work while they attend school.
- Becoming an APRN is grueling work, with long, exhausting hours. But that’s nursing in general! If you’re determined and you’ve made it this far, you can do it.
- However, making a detailed plan that will organize your life appropriately to allow you to study, work, and meet other responsibilities will be one of the most difficult aspects of this career path.
- Different programs will offer various delivery formats, including part and full-time study, and may offer some courses online, which can cut down on costs and travel time.
- Where would you like to live and work after completing your APRN degree? APRNs are highly demanded throughout the country and world. However, where you study can facilitate local positions.
- If you know you want to live in a specific city or area, getting a Master’s degree there is a great way to get a foothold that will establish you there.
These are just some of the questions and considerations you should ponder. You might find it helpful to write out answers to them for specific schools, along with any other guiding parameters you might use to decide on different nursing programs.
Now let’s look at what we’ve done to help you in your hunt:
How Can We Help You Find a Nursing Degree and Better Understand the World of Nursing?
Here at Best Health Degrees, we’ve dedicated ourselves to current and future healthcare workers. We’ve answered common questions, ranked degrees, and provided you other resources. We’re frequently updating our content to serve you, and better reflect the changing trends in health care. Here are some of the articles we’ve produced that concern APRNs:
- What Types of Nursing Degrees Can I Get?
- What Medical Careers are in Pediatrics?
- What is a Surgical Nurse?
- What is a Nurse Anesthesiologist?
- What is a Nurse Advocate?
- What is a Neonatal Nurse?
- What is a Certified Nurse Midwife?
- What Does a Gerontology Nurse Do?
- How Do You Become an Emergency Room Nurse?
- How Do You Become a Surgical Nurse?
- How Do You Become a Nurse Practitioner?
- How Do You Become a Nurse Educator?
- How Do You Become a Neonatal Nurse?
- How Do You Become a Health Policy Nurse?
- How Do You Become a Certified Nurse Midwife?
- Can You Get a Degree in Nursing Online?
- How Do I Become a Nurse Anesthetist?
- How Do You Become a Cardiac Nurse?
- What Can I Do with a Bachelor’s in Nursing?
- What Can I Do with a Master’s of Science in Nursing?
- What Can I Do with a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
- What Can I Do with a Master’s in Health Informatics?
- What Can I Do with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration?
- 15 Best Online BSN Degree Programs for 2020
- 25 Best Traditional BSN Degree Programs for 2020
- 15 Best Online MSN Degree Programs for 2020
- 25 Best Master’s in Healthcare Administration for 2020
- 15 Best Online Master’s in Healthcare Administration for 2020
- 25 Best Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs for 2020
- 15 Best Online DNP Programs for 2020
If you find any schools in our content that you’re called towards, you should write their support staff directly. Most schools have dedicated professionals eager to answer questions and help you tailor your application to get accepted to their schools.
Now let’s look at earnings and employment for APRNs:
What Can You Expect to Earn as an APRN? What’s APRN Employment Like?
Here’s some data about nursing pay and employment pulled from The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- In 2018, nurses earned a median wage of $71,730 each year, or $34.48 per hour.
- In 2018 there were 3,059,800 employed nurses.
- BLS expected nursing to grow by 12% between 2018-28, adding 371,500 new jobs to the field.
However, as an APRN, you won’t be a typical nurse. Being an APRN involves a wide range of roles with varying pay. The closest data that BLS keeps on APRN pay and employment is found in their section on Nurse Midwives, Nurse Anesthetists, and Nurse Practitioners.
- In 2018, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners had a median pay of $113,930 per year, or $54.78 per hour.
- In 2018 there were 240,700 people working in these jobs.
- This was expected to jump by 26%, creating 62,000 new jobs.
- Remember, these are just some of the roles APRNs fill, so keep that in mind.
- For more information on state and area data for these roles, please go here. For a look at what impacts higher pay, check here.
We hope you’ve found this information useful, illuminating, and inspiring. Please check back soon to see new content we’ve researched and written to help you!