Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, or APRNs, are highly trained nurses who are taking on many of the tasks that used to be reserved for doctors.
They help fill a growing demand and provide personalized care that often provides patients with more attention than they might otherwise get.
To fill these roles, nurses complete additional education and clinical training, usually in a specialized area. This training gives them the authority to diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications and manage patient care.
There are several types of APRNs, including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists.
Certified nurse practitioners provide a wide range of primary and specialty care services. In addition to the tasks listed above, they also help to manage chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
Some nurse practitioners take on additional specialties such as psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) who can provide specialized care, conduct assessments, develop treatment plans, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication.
Other common types of nurse practitioners are:
- Family nurse practitioners (FNP) who provide primary care services to patients of all ages
- Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNP) who provide primary care services to older adults, focusing on managing chronic conditions, preventing disease and promoting wellness
- Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP) who provide primary care services to infants, children and adolescents, including health maintenance and preventive care
- Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNP) who provide specialized care in reproductive and gynecological health, family planning and menopause management.
Other NPs may earn specialty certifications in areas such as cardiology, oncology or emergency medicine.
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) are experts in a particular area of health care such as pediatrics, oncology or critical care. They have several broad responsibilities.
CNSs provide direct specialized patient care to help assess, diagnose and manage complex health conditions. They also play key roles in educating and training other nurses on evidence-based practices and protocols within their area of specialty.
CNSs are sometimes called upon to participate in quality improvement initiatives that help to improve patient outcomes, reduce health-care costs and implement new practices and technology.
Others conduct research and contribute to evidence-based practices in their area of specialty.
Midwifery is a centuries-old practice, but in the 1920s and ’30s, states started to outlaw these health-care professionals.
In the 1960s and ’70s, there was a resurgence of interest in natural childbirth and the American College of Nurse-Midwives was formed in 1955 to promote midwifery.
Today, certified nurse-midwives (CNM) provide prenatal care, assist with childbirth and provide gynecological care to women throughout their reproductive lives.
They also provide family planning services.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 7,750 CNMs in the United States.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) provide anesthesia and pain management services to patients undergoing surgery or other medial procedures.
They can be found in hospitals, dental offices, surgical centers and medical centers.
According to Nurse.org, they rank 10th in the list of best health-care jobs in 2023 and are the highest-paid nurses in 2023.
To become a CRNA, a nurse must have a doctorate degree focusing on anesthesia, complete extensive clinical training and pass a certification exam.