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An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or APRN, is a nurse who has obtained a graduate degree in nursing, either a master’s degree or a doctorate. A nurse practitioner is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse who works closely with patients and who specialize to work work with specific patient populations such as women, children, or adults throughout their lifespans. Nurse practitioners diagnose, manage acute and chronic conditions, emphasize health promotion and work in disease prevention. While a nurse practitioner is always an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, not all Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are nurse practitioners. The education nurse practitioners receive includes didactic and clinical courses that are designed to provide graduates with specialized knowledge and clinical primary care competencies. Advanced Practice Nurse is the general designation for any nurse with a graduate degree and can include roles such as a Certified Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA, a Certified Nurse Specialist or CNS, etc. A Certified Nurse Specialist is an expert in a specific area of nursing. They may provide leadership or management skills in certain healthcare settings, and they’re usually experts in a specific type of problem such as diabetes.
The similarities among the roles include the minimum level of education, which is at least a master’s degree, as well as certain functions including various levels of patient care, the fact that all Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have specialized in a specific field, and the fact that their practice is recognized, regulated and licensed by individual states. All are expert clinicians with a specialized area of practice, with Certified Nurse Specialists focusing on indirect care that supports clinical efficiency and efficacy from a systems approach while a nurse practitioner focuses on direct patient care within diverse clinical settings. Both can work either autonomously or collaboratively in a team with other healthcare professionals while providing evidence-based care. Nurse practitioners also usually have prescribing authority while Certified Nurse Specialists may or may not have some level of prescribing authority depending on their specialty. Both have a higher level of independence while conducting patient care due to their higher level of education (Fraher et al., 2018). This means that they are certified to attend to a patient without necessarily seeking permission or consultancy from a doctor. Both can undertake the roles of the physician. The nurse practitioner and Advanced Practice Nurse role can be explained to patients and physicians via collaborative communication, written materials such as brochures that would explain the differences and responsibilities in layman’s terms in order to facilitate understanding of these roles.
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