The current demand for healthcare professionals who can provide qualified care has advanced the role of nurses, allowing them to contribute more to the developing health demands of the population. Nurses have sufficient training to serve in different roles, for example, be midwives, anesthesiologists, or family practitioners. The role of an advanced practice nurse (APN) is to provide care to patients by assessing their condition and developing management plans. However, when transitioning from RN to APN, one may face challenges since the latter work autonomously and much greater responsibility. The purpose of this paper is to address the differences between APN roles, the education and work environment requirements, and discuss personal motivation to become an APN.
APNs can choose a specialty that suits their preferences and can allow them to contribute to their communities best. The roles are certified nurse practitioners (CNP), clinical nurse specialists (CNS), certified nurse-midwife (CNM), and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and each has different education requirements and work environments. Each AP has to complete a Master’s degree training in order to practice. CNPs can choose one of the two specializations, which are pediatrics or family practice. A Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP) works with children of all ages, beginning from toddlers to teenagers. A family nurse, on the other hand, cooperates with all family members to provide them with routine care. The education required to become CNP or CPNP, apart from the Master’s degree, is training in the specialty area of family medicine or pediatrics and related certification (Schirle & Dietrich, 2019). CNPs can work in collaboration with physicians or diagnose illnesses independently, depending on the state where they practice.
A CNS professional can choose from three specialization fields, which are gerontology, pediatrics, or neonatal care. These professionals have to obtain a license from the Board of Certification apart from a graduate degree, either Master’s or Doctorate. CNSs may work in different clinical settings, including hospitals or emergency rooms, and are allowed to diagnose, treat, and manage their patients, as well as support other nurses and offer evidence-based changes to improve their organizations.
Next, the CRNA role implies that this professional provides anesthesiology services to patients. Due to the scope of their work, CRNAs practice in surgical units, operating rooms, or intensive care units. Apart from the Master’s degree with a specialization in anesthesia, they must receive approval for work from the National Boards of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists. Finally, a CNM is a midwife who provides care in the field of obstetric. Hence, these professionals help women by guiding them through their pregnancies and performing regular checkups, and they may practice both independently or work in hospitals. To become a CNM, one must have at least a Bachelor’s degree and a corresponding license to practice.
NP Role Over Others
The role of the NP is more appealing compared to other nursing roles because, in this position, I will be able to reach my full potential as a medical professional. One option for CNPs is to work as a family practitioner, which means that I will be able to cooperate closely with all family members rather than one specific patient. I believe that health is achieved through daily habits and routines, such as physical activity, exercise, as well as medication if necessary. These things are best managed in a family environment, where parents can teach children how to maintain a healthy diet ad children can support their caregivers if they need to change their habits to become healthier as well. Hence, I see a lot of potential in addressing the health of individuals while being a CNP.
To me, the NP role is more appealing than the others because, for example, a CNM addresses one specific aspect of health, which is reproductive care, while a CNP can provide guidance and support to patients with different types of health concerns. Thus, I see more potential in working as a CNP because I enjoy communicating with patients, discussing their health, and educating them on ways to improve it. Moreover, my research interest is holistic care and the impact of a person’s daily routine on their wellbeing, which is why this role is the most suitable for me. Hence, I chose a CNP role as oppose to other options because I am passionate about providing care to families and serving as a guide for them to improve their habits and routines so that all members of a family can be healthy.
Upon graduation, I plan to begin working in a hospital in collaboration with a physician and other specialists. In the future, I want to practice independently, but I understand that a transition to a new role will require adjustment. Additionally, I want to ensure that I have enough practical experience, and the best way to achieve this is to work in collaboration with other medical professionals. Hence, within the next five years, I want to work in a hospital to enhance my skills and improve my work experience.
After conducting research for this paper, my understanding of the NP role has changed. More specifically, I understand that a shift towards the APN role is challenging regardless of the educational background or experience because this role is new in terms of responsibility, the proximity to the patients, and the contribution that a nurse can make to their community’s health. Moreover, after studying the different variations of the NP roles, I have a better comprehension of the vast contribution that nurses make to the health of the population, since they may work in different settings and help children, women, families, or monitor the patients during surgeries.
The transition from one nursing role to another is challenging. The first barrier may be the new scope of responsibilities and a different environment that is completely new for a nurse. Urbanowicz (2019) states that even seasoned RNs report is experiencing difficulties when transitioning to an advanced practice role since they leave “the comfort zone of being an experienced RN for a new career as an inexperienced advanced practice registered nurse” (Urbanowicz, 2019, p. 50). However, it is natural for any nurse to feel discomfort when adjusting to a new position, the responsibilities that APR have to require them to transition quickly and be prepared to assist patients right away, despite the fact that very few transition programs currently exist.
The second issue is that most education programs and practice settings do not offer future APR a period to prepare for the transition and professional assistance as they do this. Urbanowicz (2019) states that previous research indicates that lack of this support affects the self-confidence of nurses, which in its turn adversely impacts their professional development.
Considering these issues, one strategy that can help during the transition period is obtaining support from my colleagues and supervisors as I become a CNP. Since the environment will be new for me and I will have no time to adjust, I will try to communicate this concern to my supervisors and ask them for help if I need assistance or guidance. I would not want to burden them. However, I understand that I might encounter challenging cases where assistance from more experienced colleagues will help. Moreover, with this in mind, I would want to choose a healthcare facility where the work environment is friendly and positive.
The second strategy is to find a residency program that supports the transition towards the APN role. Although Janet (2019) argues that there are only a few of these programs available, the necessity for these has been widely discussed in the literature, and it is possible that more facilities will invest in offering support for future APN as they transition. Hence, I would prioritize settings with transition programs.
In summary, this paper addresses the different roles nurses may have and the education they need to attain them. Advanced practice nurses can work as family practitioners, pediatricians, provide guidance to pregnant women, or be anaesthesiologists. Regardless of their choice, the transition towards a new role will be a challenge since most APNs report feeling a lack of confidence and difficulties adjusting to a new environment. To combat this, one can choose a residency program that supports role transition or select a friendly and supportive work environment. I plan to become a CNP and work with families, and I will try to find a care setting with a nurse transition program.
Schirle, L., & Dietrich, M. (2020). Advanced practice registered nurses’ work environment perceptions in hospitals: A cross‐sectional survey. Journal of Nursing Management, 28(4), 919-926. doi: 10.1111/jonm.13020
Urbanowicz, J. (2019). APRN transition to practice. The Nurse Practitioner, 44(12), 50-55. doi: 10.1097/01.npr.0000605520.88939.d1