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Pave a career as an advanced practice nurse
Earn 1 credit hour with this continuing education course
Theresa Ameri, DNP, RN, CNE, CPN, FNP-BC, has more than 19 years of clinical nursing experience, including pediatrics and nursing education, and as a family nurse practitioner. She has provided educational leadership, support, and professional development to healthcare providers as a staff developer, professor, and clinical instructor. She has developed nursing procedures, performed textbook review, and curriculum development. Her areas of special interest and expertise include health promotion & disease prevention, pediatric & adolescent health, and young adult cancer survivorship.
The decision to seek higher education and an advanced degree is one nurses must make for themselves. The task may seem daunting, but by taking the time to think through what you want to do and how you can do it, you will feel successful, accomplished, and rewarded by the process. The key questions you should ask yourself as you begin this journey are:
• Why do I want to do this? • What role do I want to play? • What type of degree and program do I want? • What barriers may I face? • What resources do I have?
This module will provide an overview of the advanced degrees for nursing graduate education and focus on seeking higher education for the clinical role of the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) as a nurse practitioner. APRNs may also be referred to as advanced practice nurses (APNs), and this module will use the terms interchangeably.

Why pursue higher education?
Nursing is a profession grounded in life-long learning. Each year, nurses complete continuing education to hone skills, validate knowledge, and build a stronger foundation to professional practice. But why not just stop there? Why consider an advanced degree? These are good questions and a place to start in order to move forward.

A master’s degree in nursing enables a registered nurse to pursue an area of practice that is meaningful in order to provide professional advancement. The commitment needed to pursue graduate education must be strong and personally validated. It is essential to consider personal motivation. Your motivation may simply be a love of learning and a desire to further develop professional practice. The call to higher education is well supported by several influential organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Nurses Association, American Organization of Nurse Executives, and National League for Nursing.

A report from the Institute of Medicine titled “The Future of Nursing” focused on advancement of nursing education as a keystone for the future of healthcare, specifically through encouraging nurses to practice at the highest level of their licensure and to pursue higher degrees that would expand practice capabilities.1 Provisions in the ACA expanded funding for advanced nursing education and highlighted roles of the APN in healthcare delivery.2

Because of the ACA, Mary Wakefield, former administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, believes nurses are poised to make a greater impact on the lives of patients, families, and communities.3
Obtaining an advanced practice education is typically rewarded with employment stability and financial benefits.4 Some organizations provide higher salaries based on education level. There is the potential for a salary increase for those who have or obtain a graduate degree.

You may work for an employer or healthcare system that requires an advanced degree or strongly prefers one for leadership roles. If you want to assume a leadership role that provides higher annual compensation, completing a graduate degree program will put you in a position to advance your career. A graduate degree will also make you more marketable and attractive to organizations that value graduate-prepared nurses. There is job stability in obtaining an advanced nursing graduate degree and becoming a clinically based APRN. It is projected that APRNs in clinical practice will experience a 31% increase in employment from 2016-2026.4, 5 The number of entry-level APRNs has more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 and continues to rise.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the mean national salary for nurse practitioners to be $107,480.4 APNs are poised to take a greater role in the provision of healthcare, especially primary care, because of the increased number of insured and increased access to healthcare.6 Becoming an APRN in clinical practice requires a master’s degree in addition to certification and licensure.
How to earn continuing education
Read the Continuing Education article.
Go online to
to take the
test for $12
. If you are an Unlimited CE subscriber, you can take this test at no additional charge. You can sign up for an Unlimited CE membership at
$49.95 per year
If the course you have chosen to take includes a clinical vignette, you will be asked to review the vignette and answer 3 or 4 questions. You must answer all questions correctly to proceed. If you answer a question incorrectly, we will provide a clue to the correct answer.
Once you successfully complete the short test associated with the clinical vignette (if there is one), proceed to the course posttest. To earn contact hours, you must achieve a score of 75%. You may retake the test as many times as necessary to pass the test.
All users must complete the evaluation process to complete the course. You will be able to view a certificate on screen and print or save it for your records.
In support of improving patient care, Relias LLC is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.
Relias LLC is also an approved provider by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, District of Columbia Board of Nursing, Florida Board of Nursing, Georgia Board of Nursing, New Mexico Board of Nursing, South Carolina Board of Nursing, and West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses (provider # 50-290). Relias LLC is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, provider # CEP13791.
Relias LLC's continuing education (CE) contact hours are generally accepted by most professional nursing organizations and state boards of nursing. Relias LLC has made substantial efforts to obtain appropriate providerships for CE offerings. However, Relias LLC does not warrant that all professional organizations or licensing authorities will accept its CE contact hours. If in doubt, nurses are advised to contact their professional organizations or licensing authorities to confirm their acceptance of these contact hours.
You can take this test online or select from the list of courses available. Prices subject to change.
T |
E |
Advanced Practice Nurses: Educational Pathways for the APRN Role
Theresa Ameri, DNP, RN, CNE, CPN, FNP-BC
This course is 1 contact hour
Course must be completed by February 15, 2022.
Goals and objectives:
The goal of this program is to provide information on the benefits of and strategies for pursuing advanced graduate nursing education. After studying the information presented here, you will be able to: 1. Discuss the benefits of obtaining graduate nursing education 2. Differentiate between the roles and programs available for a nurse pursuing graduate nursing education
3. Identify barriers to and resources available for pursuing graduate education educational activities are provided by OnCourse Learning, a Relias LLC Company. For further information and accreditation statements, please visit
. The planners and authors have declared no relevant conflicts of interest that relate to this educational activity. Relias LLC guarantees this educational activity is free from bias. See
“How to Earn Continuing Education”
to learn how to earn CE credit for this module or visit
Read the full course and take the test
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CE Direct subscriber? Complete course here
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What roles do APNs play?
Opportunities for an APN are diverse and can encompass both indirect and direct patient care.7 You may choose an educational path based on where you work or what role you would like to assume in your current organization. There are four categories of APRNs:8
Other APN roles include those outside of a clinical practice role once the nurse has obtained a master’s degree. APNs may use their clinical expertise in alternative roles.
These roles can include the following:

Nurse practitioners
are APNs who deliver primary and acute care in clinics, schools, hospitals, and other settings, where they diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries, manage chronic disease, and provide health promotion and disease prevention services (physical exams, immunizations, health screening). NPs are credentialed in their clinical practice area. In many states, APRNs can practice unrestricted and with full autonomy.
Certified nurse midwives
(CNMs) are APNs who deliver prenatal, obstetric, postnatal, and routine gynecological care to women.
Certified registered nurse anesthetists
(CRNAs) are APNs who administer anesthetics to patients undergoing invasive medical and dental procedures.
Certified nurse specialists
are APNs who have completed graduate coursework in a specialized area of a clinical practice setting or within a population. For example, a CNS can have a clinical focus in oncology, pediatrics, gerontology, or wound care. In some states (such as Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and New Mexico) as well as the District of Columbia,9 a CNS can perform many of the same duties as a nurse practitioner, including diagnosis and prescription of treatment. A CNS provides leadership and expertise in his or her specialty, regardless of where the CNS practices.
Nurse administrators
typically serve in roles that have managerial and leadership capacities within practice environments. APNs in leadership roles generally have strong clinical backgrounds and aspire to be organization leaders, shaping policies, procedures, and practices.
Nurse researchers
explore ways to improve healthcare services and patient outcomes. The translation of research and application to practice aids in innovation and transformation of care. Nurse researchers may lead studies and investigations in their institutions or within larger government entities, such as the National Institutes of Health.
RNs interested in quality and patient safety may find that an
administrative or research-based education track
will provide them with the knowledge to fill that vital role in a number of healthcare settings, both inpatient and outpatient.
Nurse educators
should have clinical expertise and a passion for teaching. Hospital-based nurse educators continue the education for entry-level and experienced nurses. Academic nurse educators provide education to those entering the profession or continuing their education. In addition, academic nurse educators often perform research, contribute to professional publications, serve as leaders in academic institutions, and serve as resources for healthcare delivery in public and private settings.
Nontraditional roles
for nurses vary but can include politics, public policy, law, and business.
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