Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

Advanced registered nurse practitioners provide medical care for patients in a capacity similar to that of a physician. Advanced registered nurse practitioners must first have a bachelor's degree and registered nurse (RN) designation before earning their master's degree in nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is expected to see exceptional job growth from 2014 through 2024.

Essential Information

Advanced registered nurse practitioners are nurses who provide either primary or specialty care services to patients. Generally taking on many of the same responsibilities as physicians, nurse practitioners serve an important function in the healthcare system. In order to become a nurse practitioner, registered nurses (RNs) must further their education by earning at least a master's degree. Nurse practitioners may then seek optional certification to further enhance their skillsets.

Required Education Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in Nursing; doctoral degree optional
Other Requirements Licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN) prior to completion of advanced degree program; national certification required upon completion of program
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 35% for all nurse practitioners
Median Salary* (2015) $98,190 for all nurse practitioners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Advanced registered nurse practitioners provide services similar to those of a physician. They examine patients, take medical histories, maintain patient records, identify health risk factors, prescribe medications, make referrals and otherwise treat health conditions. Their background in nursing gives them a unique approach to medical care. In general, advanced registered nurse practitioners focus more on patient wellness and disease prevention than do physicians. They may provide health education services or counsel patients on how to make healthy lifestyle choices. By providing these additional services, nurse practitioners (NPs) aim to help patients avoid long hospital stays and frequent emergency room visits, thus driving down their healthcare costs.

Most NPs are primary care providers and work in specialties like family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics and women's health. However, some choose to specialize in secondary care areas, such as neonatology, oncology, mental health, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, orthopedics and sports medicine.

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Requirements

Advanced registered nurse practitioners must first be RNs. Nursing programs typically last 2-4 years and may result in an associate degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). There are also nursing programs offered by hospitals, which typically take three years to complete and result in a diploma. Graduates of approved programs must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licensure as a registered nurse. Although any one of these types of programs can qualify one as an RN, those who would like to go on to an advanced degree program to become an NP must have a bachelor's degree. RNs who hold associate degrees may opt to enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to complete their bachelor's degree requirement.

Once a nurse has satisfied the requirements for being an RN, he or she may enroll in a master's degree, post-master's certificate or doctoral degree program to complete the education requirement necessary to become an NP. These programs generally take 2-4 years to complete. Graduates may earn certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). However, only the ANCC offers certification in specialties other than family practice, gerontology or adult practice. Certification is earned by passing an examination and must be renewed every five years by earning continuing education units and completing clinical practice requirements.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the Unites States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for nurse practitioners will increase by 35% between 2014 and 2024. This is a rate much faster than average, making this an excellent career direction for the right person. Additionally, the BLS reported the median annual salary for nurse practitioners was $98,190 in 2015.

Advanced nurse practitioners are highly trained medical professionals who provide primary and specialty medical care to patients, similar to those provided by physicians. Those who want to become an advanced nurse practitioner must first become a registered nurse (RN). After doing so, and earning a bachelor's degree, they can begin their master's degree and any specialized certification connected to their desired career path.

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