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Advanced Practice Nurse Career Information and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an advance practice nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Advance practice nurses are registered nurses who have furthered their training through a graduate degree or certificate program. They are able to perform some of the same duties as a physician. These positions require a master's degree.

Essential Information

Advanced practice nurses are actually registered nurses who have earned advanced specialty degrees. Depending on the state where they practice, they may have many of the same responsibilities as licensed physicians. Advance practice nurses need a master's degree and have to pass specialty exams. They also need to have passed the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses.

Required Education Master of Science in Nursing degree
Other Requirements RN licensure and advanced practice nurse licensure
Projected Job Growth* 31% between 2014 and 2024 (for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners)
Median Salary (2016)** $87,537

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Advanced Practice Nurse Career Information and Requirements

Career Information

An advanced practice nurse can work as a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse anesthetist, a certified nurse specialist or a nurse practitioner. All of these job titles refer to registered nurses with advanced education, usually no less than a master's degree in nursing.

Certified nurse-midwives provide gynecological care, family planning and neonatal care for women and infants. Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia before surgical procedures. A certified nurse specialist is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. Nurse practitioners can be primary caregivers, and they focus on prevention and wellness. Overall, advanced practice nurses can work in any virtually specialty, including acute care, cardiology, oncology, geriatrics, pediatrics and family practice.

As an advanced practice nurse, it is possible to examine, counsel and diagnose patients, as well as prescribe medicines. Upon becoming an advanced practice nurse, professionals can work with doctors or they can treat patients independently. They can order x-rays, laboratory tests and refer patients to specialists.

Advanced practice nurses work closely with other members of a patient's medical team. They need to be caring and adaptable with good leadership abilities. They should be sympathetic and empathetic, with a natural desire to help others.

Requirements

In order to begin a career as a registered nurse, either a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing or a diploma from an accredited school of nursing is required. It can take from two to four years to complete these nursing programs. Associate's degrees take less time to earn, but training is not as intensive. Greater job opportunities exist for those with a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing.

Requirements for advanced practice nurses are even more stringent, and at least a master's degree in nursing practice is required. Advanced practice nurses must demonstrate superior clinical skills and be able to pass specialty tests, and the National Council Licensure Examination.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to PayScale.com, advance practice registered nurses made a median salary of $87,537 as of January 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a higher-than-average job growth for all nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners between 2014 and 2024, projecting a likely employment increase of 31% over the decade.

Advance practice nurses must first fulfill the requirements to become a registered nurse. They then complete a master's degree and attain additional licensing to practice as advance practice nurses. The job outlook for these positions, including nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, is much faster than average.

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