Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) Degree Overview

Learn about APN degrees and the many opportunities in advanced practice nursing.

What is Advanced Practice Nursing?

advanced practice nurse holding files

Today's advanced-practice nurses (APNs) perform tasks once reserved for medical doctors. They assist other medical professionals and manage patient care, and many specialize in fields such as pediatrics, oncology and family medicine.

There are many opportunities in advanced practice nursing with the current nursing shortage and demand for qualified health professionals. APNs not only make a good living and work in a time of nursing opportunity, they also enjoy the daily reward of helping patients recovering from illness and procedures.

Specialties and APN Degrees

And how do you become an advanced practice nurse? A nurse with a master's degree is called an advanced practice nurse (APN), and they come in four varieties:

Nurse Practitioner (NP) – Nurse practitioner's provide basic care focused on a specific population or health need, with the ability to write prescriptions. Family nurse practitioners are an example of this.

Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – Certified nurse anesthetist's administer anesthesia for all types of surgery.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) – Clinical nurse specialists provide specialist care in a number of areas: cardiology, oncology, neonatology, OB/GYN, pediatrics, neurology, and mental health.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – Nurse-midwives provide prenatal care, delivers babies, and provide postpartum care to normal healthy women.

Advanced practice nursing is thriving in today's health care industry with the nursing shortage. APNs deliver services that were previously delivered by physicians. Nurse Practice Acts vary widely among states, and they define just what advanced practice nurses can do.