Post-Graduate Nursing Degrees are Key Element of Advanced Practice Nursing

Master’s Level Specialties for Highly Motivated RNs

Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) describes a level of nursing expertise reserved for four nursing specialties. RNs that wish to become Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, or Clinical Nurse Specialists must step into graduate level nursing programs. These advanced nursing specialties stand apart from the dozens of other sub-specialties specifically for the volume of extra know-how required for credentialing.

APN Degrees and Licensure Requirements

APN nurses enroll in Masters in Nursing programs that provide an additional two or two-plus years of ultra-specialized knowledge focused specifically on their chosen specialty. Most Master’s level nurses engage in curriculum that divides time between academic nursing theory and hands-on clinical experience.

  • Nurse Anesthetists work hand-in-hand with Anesthesiologists to design and deliver a targeted anesthesia plan during surgery. In many hospitals Nurse Anesthetists are the primary caregiver and only engage an Anesthesiologist in an emergency situation; this means they must be extremely well trained, motivated and confident in their skills. Students in this program engage in very specific training in advanced pharmacology, chemistry, drug therapies, surgical procedure and pre- and post-operative patient care and monitoring. Most Nursing Anesthesia programs run for two to two and a half years. Nurse Anesthetists must pass the licensing exam that credentials them as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).
  • Nurse Midwives do much more than help with home births. Specialists in this nursing area also deliver personal prenatal care, gynecological exams and assist new mothers with infant care following birth. Midwives receive specialized education in obstetrics and gynecology and are required to pass the national exam before they receive certification as a Nurse Midwife. Midwives may work in hospitals or in clinical settings.
  • Nurse Practitioners are trained to work independently of physicians, but are allowed to see patients, diagnose medical conditions, conduct examinations, and prescribe medication and care plans. NPs may further specialize in adult or family health. NPs must complete an accredited Master’s degree program in Family and Adult Nurse Practice before applying for certification.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists are more specialized Nurse Practitioners that provide a wider array of patient care and health services. CNSs must successfully graduate from an accredited Clinical Nurse Specialist Masters degree program and then must pass the national certification exam to obtain licensure to practice. CNSs are utilized in hospitals and in clinical settings. CNSs choose more granular specialties, such as Women’s Health, Family Health and Geriatric Health.

Elderly Patient Walking With a Cane.

APN Career Opportunities

Nurses that have achieved APN licensure in one of the four nursing specialties has already explored career potential. However, once licensed APNs often have the option to work in hospitals or in their own practice. This decision is very subjective and often rooted in personality more than in experience level. Some APNs may earn over six figures a year.



Get Your Free Information on Nursing & Healthcare Programs