Most individuals seeking a Master of Science in Nursing do so in preparation for becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). APRNs are Registered Nurses who have received advanced preparation for expanded clinical practice in highly specialized areas. Currently, this means an RN must obtain at least a Master’s degree in nursing.
What Do Advanced Practice Nurses Do?
APRNs are playing more and more of a pivotal role in the healthcare system in the United States. They are filling many voids created by the shortage of physicians in today’s healthcare system. For example, many rural areas in America can no longer attract physicians, so APRNs are filling that void in many of those areas.
Advanced Practice Nurses are prepared by their education and certifications to perform many of the jobs previously reserved only for physicians. Those include things such as assessing patients, diagnosing illnesses, managing patients with complex conditions, ordering diagnostic tests, prescribing medications of all kinds, delivering babies, and anesthetizing patients for surgery just to name a few.
Additionally, APRNs are eligible for insurance reimbursements and can refer patients to other professional healthcare providers including but not limited to physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and dentists. They can even have admitting privileges at healthcare facilities like hospitals.
There are four recognized general areas of specialization at the Master’s level within advanced practice nursing programs. These specializations include the following:
- Nurse Practitioners (NPs)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)
- Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs)
- Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs)
Those general specialization areas can also have sub-specialties or concentrations. The sub-specialties can be in specific fields and specific patient populations in healthcare. Some examples of patient populations might include seniors, adults, children, and neonates. Examples of specific fields include primary care, acute care, critical care, oncology, and operating room sub-specialties.
As the United States healthcare system continues to evolve, APRNs are playing a pivotal role in its future.