The Advance Practice Nurse Consensus Model recognizes four advanced practice roles: certified nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are the most common of the four main roles for advanced practice nurses, but there are many different types of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who hold both a Master of Science in Nursing degree and a license as a nurse practitioner from an approved national licensing body, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Each national licensing body has its own requirements for nurse practitioner certification, which generally include a Master of Science in Nursing degree, a certain amount of nursing experience, and a certification examination. Individuals should check with their state boards of nursing to determine which licenses are accepted. The requirements for advancing to a nurse practitioner vary by state.
The nurse practitioner scope of practice includes direct patient care, including diagnosing and treating illnesses — in contrast to clinical nurse specialists, who generally spend more of their time educating and consulting with staff and improving the overall quality of patient outcomes. Many nurse practitioners hold specialty licenses in areas such as acute care, adult care, pediatric care, gerontology, family nurse practitioner, neonatal health, and oncology. Nurse Practitioners also have varying degrees of prescriptive authority.
Nurse Practitioners generally earn higher salaries and more generous benefit packages than those received by Registered Nurses who do not hold advanced practice licensure. The average nurse practitioner salary is around $89,000 in total compensation. Additionally, the current nursing shortage has prompted many hospitals to offer increased salaries to advanced practice nurses in an effort to attract more nurses with specialty expertise. Due to the shortage in primary care providers, the job outlook for nurse practitioners is better than ever.
Types of Nurse Practitioners
Cardiac vascular nurse practitioners work with patients dealing with heart failure, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and arrhythmias. These nurse practitioners have different responsibilities, including cardiovascular assessment, training for anticoagulation therapy, electrophysiology treatment, management of cardiovascular devices such as pacemakers, treatment through medication, and interpretation of data and tests.
Orthopedic nurse practitioners focus on musculoskeletal conditions, conducting physical examinations on patients, treating their ailments and analyzing the outcomes of their treatments. These nurse practitioners work very closely with physicians to coordinate patient care.
Pediatric nurse practitioners provide care for infants and children up to 21 years old. They assess the growth and development of their patients to ensure they are maturing at a normal rate. They also educate patients and families and provide primary care for children.
In addition to caring for newborn infants, neonatal nurse practitioners care for young children for the first few years of their lives. These nurse practitioners are well equipped to care for high-risk and pre-term newborns and often work independently. Though most NNPs work in an acute care hospital setting, they may also work in private practice as well.
Adult nurse practitioners focus on preventive care to keep adults healthy as they age through patient education. ANPs also manage patients with chronic health issues and diagnose and treat diseases. They strive to deliver high-quality primary care to their patients.
Psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners use theoretical, scientific and clinical knowledge to offer mental health care to patients in mental health centers, psychiatric facilities, correctional facilities and schools. PMHNPs assess, diagnose and treat a variety of psychiatric illnesses and mental health conditions.
Gerontological nurse practitioners have the expertise to treat older adults, as well as adults of all ages. They often test and evaluate gerontological research and influence social policy regarding health program development and implementation. They integrate best practices into health care systems and offer cost-effective services.
Pediatric acute care nurse practitioners treat children with acute, critical and chronic illnesses from infancy until age 21 or beyond. These nurse practitioners diagnose and treat illnesses as well as form care plans, in addition to educating patients and families to influence healthy outcomes.
Family nurse practitioners often work in private practice to offer primary care to families. They are able to treat and diagnose a wide variety of illnesses and educate their patients on subjects such as childbirth, newborn care, cholesterol and stress management, and aging. Depending on their state of practice, many family nurse practitioners have high levels of autonomy and are able to prescribe medication. FNPs often collaborate with physicians to discuss treatment and best practices.
AG-ACNPs provide advanced care to adults and older, all the way up to elderly care. They treat acute, critical and chronic conditions and work with a variety of health care professionals to improve patient health. These practitioners use patient histories and response to past treatment to optimize treatment plans and provide the best care possible for the specific needs of individual patients.
Women’s health nurse practitioners provide care to women of all ages, including adolescents going through puberty, pregnant mothers to be, and women going through menopause. WHNPs also treat eating disorders, offer prenatal care and counsel patients on contraceptives and STDs. Some are more involved in diagnosing acute illness while others are more preventive in nature, offering advice for healthy pregnancies.
Oncology nurse practitioners work with cancer patients to diagnose and treat cancer with a team of health care workers. They are also a significant source of psychological support for patients and their families and act as educators on the diseases and treatments relevant to their patients.