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What Is an Advanced Practice Nurse and How to Become One

What Are Advanced Practice Nurses?

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) have extra training and additional responsibilities beyond those of a regular registered nurse. APNs can perform many of the same job duties as doctors, including diagnosing patients and prescribing medications. As an APN, you can specialize your skills in one of four areas: nurse practitioner (NP), nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist. In rural areas, you may serve as a primary health care provider in your community. However, you must refer extreme or special needs cases to physicians or specialist doctors.

How to Become an Advanced Practice Nurse

To pursue a career as an advanced practice nurse (APN), you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and become certified as a registered nurse (RN). After you gain experience as an RN, complete a master’s degree or doctorate program in nursing with a specialty on your preferred practice area: nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist. As part of your training, you must complete clinical hours and perform your duties well. Each state has licensure and continuing education requirements to work as an APN, so research the qualifications in your state.