Advanced practice registered nurses are highly trained individuals with a higher degree of responsibility and specialization than others in the field. There are four types of advanced practice registered nurses: nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse practitioners. These specialties involve an expanded level of independence and responsibility for patient care compared to less trained nurses; they may be wholly responsible for patient care in their field, with only minimal consultation with or supervision by doctors. They identify patient needs, perform exams, order tests, and, in some cases, write prescriptions. For example, a nurse midwife may be responsible for all prenatal care and the in-home birthing process. A clinical nurse specialist may be responsible for the day-to-day operations of a psychiatric ward, with only some patient-specific doctor instructions to follow.
Advanced practice registered nurses work in a variety of situations. They may work directly in hospitals, managing nursing staffs and departmental operations. They may work directly with in-home patients as primary caregivers. Local clinics and urgent care centers often employ nurse practitioners to examine patients and provide treatment for injuries and issues less serious than would require an emergency room visit. Direct patient contact occurs on a near constant basis.
Advanced practice registered nurses must have a post-baccalaureate degree from an accredited school in the advanced practice registered nursing field. Certification in their specific discipline is also required; for example, nurse practitioners must have state certification to write prescriptions, and clinical nurse specialist positions may require a certification in psychiatry.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Tasks
Order and interpret test results and recommend treatment of patients.
Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment and counsel patients.
Prescribe therapy or medication with physician approval.
Administer therapeutic procedures.
Provide physicians with assistance during surgery or complicated medical procedures.