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A Patient's Guide to Understanding the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse 

What is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)? 

An APRN, also referred to as a nurse practitioner, is a registered nurse with advanced training, clinical competency and decision-making skills. APRNs care for patients with acute and chronic medical conditions across the life span, and promote health and wellness. 

What training and qualifications do APRNs have? 

All APRNs have master's or doctorate degrees, and they undergo rigorous training that prepares them for state licensure and national certification. National certification must be renewed every five years. Nurse practitioners can choose to specialize in one area of medicine, such as family, adult, pediatric, women's health, geriatric medicine, oncology, cardiology, surgery and many other disciplines. 

What does an APRN do? 

APRNs provide a full range of services, including: 

  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests (X-rays, lab work, CT scans, MRIs). 
  • Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions. 
  • Prescribing medication. 
  • Ordering physical and occupational therapy. 
  • Referring patients to specialists. 
  • Providing health and psychological counseling. 
  • Performing bedside procedures.