An advanced practice nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who has undergone specialized advance training and education. Some of the more common types of advanced nursing include nurse practitioners, surgical nurses, and nurse anesthetists. Midwifery and other types of specialized nursing may also be certified as advanced practice nurses.
Certification of an advanced practice nurse will generally vary according to regional regulations, but in most all cases, nurses applying for advance practice courses must first become registered. Attaining a degree as an RN can take anywhere from two to four years, and usually involves receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing studies. Once an applicant has received RN certification, then she can make a decision on what area she would like to specialize in and arrange for the required education.
There are usually many job opportunities for an advanced practice nurse, such as working in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. Some advanced nurses, such as nurse practitioners, can perform many duties usually reserved for a medical doctor (MD), including prescribing medications and diagnostic testing. In many areas, midwives are authorized to handle the delivery of newborns without the assistance of an MD. Many women choose midwives to help with their labor and delivery so they can have their babies at home. Sometimes, however, midwife deliveries are performed in hospitals, so if an emergency occurs, an MD will be nearby.
A nurse anesthetist is a type of advanced practice nurse trained to administer anesthesia, a service that was once confined only to a licensed MD. This is one of the highest paid fields of nursing, and usually requires the most extensive training. It often takes several years to be able to certify as a nurse anesthetist. The earning potential for nurse anesthetists varies according to location, but the average salary is around $150,000 US Dollars (USD) per year. These nurses can typically find employment in hospitals, dentists offices, and medical private practices.
People interested in becoming an advanced practice nurse should arrange their educational studies so they obtain a good background in math and science. This is especially true with those who are still in high school or early in their college careers. Adjusting education requirements as early as possible may result in an acceleration of certification. In addition, early entry into nursing education programs may make it easier to obtain student loans or grants to help pay for education.