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Posted: May 5, 2016
(BPT) - If you’ve been to a doctor’s office, walkin health clinic or hospital recently, the odds are pretty good that you have met or received care from an advanced practice registered nurse.
Known as APRNs, they deliver a variety of primary care services and some specialized clinical services, educate patients on health and wellness, advocate for patient safety, and provide compassion and support during some of the most difficult times in their patients’ lives.
While all nurses have special training, APRNs
have pursued advanced degrees that give them even more knowledge to make a
difference. As a result, they are in high demand. From the implementation of
the Affordable Care Act to the growth of Accountable Care Organizations, APRNs
have an important part to play in improving access to care. This is good news
for patients as well as individuals considering a career in nursing or
advancing their nursing career.
“The role of nurses with advanced practice training and
education has long been misunderstood by the general public and health care
community alike,” says Kaplan University School of Nursing Dean and
Vice President Chandice Covington. “Because demand is only set to grow for these highly skilled
individuals, it’s time to shine a light on the APRNs in the nursing
In honor of National Nurses Week 2016, Kaplan University
School of Nursing launched the “Know Your Advanced Practice RN” campaign. The
goal is to bring clarity and promote the important role of APRNs to the
delivery of health care in the United States, and to support the important work
of national nursing professional organizations on this issue. Learn more at www.kaplanuniversity.edu/nursing/knowyourAPRN.
Advanced practice RNs have four designated roles, as outlined
by the Campaign for Consensus, a national education and advocacy campaign from the
National Council for State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and described below. Each allow nurses to make significant
contributions to the delivery of health care and provide greater access for
Nurse Practitioner (CNP)Certified nurse practitioners can choose to practice
independently in wideranging specialties such as family practice, internal
medicine, pediatrics, women’s health and geriatrics. Education, training and
certification follow two distinct paths to prepare CNPs for practice in primary
care or acute care settings. Regardless of setting, CNPs gain a range of clinical
skills that include diagnosing and managing acute and chronic conditions;
ordering and interpreting laboratory and imaging studies; prescribing
medication; and making appropriate referrals for patients and families.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)Nurses who excel at seeing the big picture make great
clinical nurse specialists. Training gives CNSs the skills to integrate and
improve patient care and outcomes across the health care spectrum. A CNS career
also empowers nurses to promote the field of nursing, champion evidencebased
practices, and prevent illness and risky health behaviors in a variety of
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) CRNAs provide anesthesia care for people of all ages. For
nurses that choose this career path, they can work in a hospital, pain
management center, private physician office and many other settings. They can
also apply specialized skills to help a wide variety of patients who require
invasive medical procedures, from the relatively healthy to those with
lifethreatening injuries or illnesses.
NurseMidwife (CNM)In addition to assisting in childbirth, registered nurses who
become certified nursemidwives provide women with a full range of primary
health care services. These advanced practice nurses provide gynecologic,
family planning, preconception, prenatal, postpartum, and newborn care and
services. Many even treat the male partners of their female clients for STDs
and reproductive health issues. Similar to CRNAs, certified nursemidwives can
choose to work in a variety of settings, including in homes, birth centers and
public health clinics.
"APRNs are hard working professionals that have far reaching
influences on patient care on a variety of levels every day," says
Covington. "Our health care system is truly made better by their service
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