What is advanced practice nursing? An advanced practice nurse is one who has successfully completed a post-graduate nursing program. Advanced practice nurses receive intensive classroom as well as clinical education. They are supplied with the tools to gain advanced knowledge and skills, and increased scope of practice in nursing. Advanced practice nursing describes a level of nursing practice that uses comprehensive and strong skills. Advanced experience and knowledge are utilized to assess, plan, implement, diagnose and evaluate patients’ care.
Nurses who practice at this level have received post-graduate education and may choose to work with either a specialist or generalist concentration. However, advanced practice nursing is based on the elevated level of knowledge, skill and experience that is employed within the nurse-patient relationship in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. This can be achieved by utilizing critical analysis, problem solving and evidence-based decision making. Why is advanced practice important in nursing? Because of the intensive post-graduate education requirements, advanced practice nurses learn to effectively integrate theory, practice and their own experiences. They also develop the ability to independently make responsible decisions and to apply appropriate interventions.
The advanced education requirements are designed in such a way that advanced practice nurses learn to formulate multiple approaches when making decisions, managing patients’ care, or collaborating with patients to achieve best outcomes. This is important as healthcare continues to evolve. Patients can feel assured of receiving appropriate and excellent care by an advanced practice nurse who collaborates with physicians. There have been studies conducted to assess the outcomes of patients cared for by advanced practice nurses and compared to those cared for exclusively by physicians.
The results showed that patients of those advanced practice nurses working along with the physicians had equal or better outcomes than those who had been treated solely by physicians. Is all advanced practice the same? No, an advanced practice nursing student can choose from one of four areas of specialization: Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Nurse Practitioner. Each of these nurse specialties, particularly Nurse Practitioners, can choose to specialize in a particular field or focus on a specific patient population in which to provide care. Each specialty has a distinctive background and functions in a different capacity. However, they are all referred to as Advanced Practice Nurses.