Advanced practice nursing is becoming substantially more popular nowadays as the role develops and expands its competencies. Nurses are encouraged to follow this career path more often, improving their capabilities and engaging in more productive work. The scope of the role has also diversified since its inception, creating additional complexity and confusion as to the purposes of the advanced practice nurse. Different professional paths are available to an individual who chooses to pursue the goal, such as general or specialized patient care, anesthesia provision, or midwifery. The purpose of this essay is to clarify the role and the reasons for pursuing it, the difference in patient-centered care and decision-making that results from obtaining a master’s degree in nursing, and discuss the effects of attaining the role on career advancement.
The Purpose of the Role
The advanced practice nurse aims to provide superior and more holistic care to patients compared to a registered nurse. Nurse practitioners are the most common variety, making the first contact with patients and providing a continuity of care, including tests, diagnosis, prescriptions, and the scheduling of follow-up appointments (Woo et al., 2017). As such, they can often practice independently of physicians and provide high-quality care locally in rural communities that struggle with access to healthcare otherwise. With that said, it should be noted that in many jurisdictions, parts of a nurse practitioner’s authority are restricted, limiting the scope of their work. The three other commonly recognized types of advanced practice nurses are clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse-midwives. The first specializes in a particular field, conducting research and education, the second administers anesthesia and similar medications when necessary, and the third provides care for pregnant women before, during, and after childbirth. All of these tasks require extensive training and competence, focusing on practical skills but incorporating theoretical knowledge and evidence-based practice. As such, a nurse that wishes to improve their ability to serve patients should seek an advanced practice degree.
Masters-Level Nursing Education, Patient-Centered Care, and Decision-Making
While working on their master’s degree, nurses learn various skills, both theoretical and practical. They learn new approaches and correct misconceptions that they may have had about care to enhance the overall quality of the care they provide. Additionally, they learn to communicate better, gathering information about the patient’s problems and reassuring them. This ability also enables them to supply holistic care, considering the patient’s physical, mental, and spiritual health and improving all of them. As a result, the quality of patient-centered care that they provide increases as they become able to address more concerns and learn to handle the ones they could manage before in a superior manner. Moreover, nursing education features decision-making courses, teaching nurses to stay calm under pressure and think analytically. Students are taught algorithms that they can use to ensure that their thinking is sound and addresses the situation appropriately. As a result, they can make critical choices in a manner that maximizes patient well-being, reaching well-considered decisions without taking up excessive time. Overall, nurses’ ability to improve patient outcomes is increased dramatically as they educate themselves to earn a master’s degree.
Nurse Practitioners and Career Advancement
As highly competent, well-educated professionals, nurse practitioners tend to have excellent opportunities for advancing their careers. Per McComiskey et al. (2018), they have the opportunity to specialize their skills further and become nurse educators, informaticists, or health policy specialists. Nurse educators teach other nurses to improve their competencies and help them attain new skills. Nurse informaticists focus on developing, implementing, and using electronic systems in nursing practice. Lastly, health policy specialists work with health organizations and the government and use their understanding of current issues and pertinent laws to propose practical solutions on the local, state, and federal levels. Another option for a nurse practitioner is to adopt a managerial position, eventually reaching the chief nursing officer’s position in their organization. The Institute of Medicine (2011) also mentions alternate opportunities that stem from different organizations finding uses for nurses internally, such as a position at the Department of Veterans Affairs. With that said, Chang et al. (2018) mention that there are still numerous barriers to career advancement for nurse practitioners, such as a lack of a well-defined career growth plan. Healthcare organizations need to formalize advancement for advanced practice nurses to help them capitalize on the opportunities presented to them and maximize their ability to provide care.
Overall, the advanced practice nurse’s role is still in active development and lacks a well-defined formal framework. With that said, it is adopted broadly across the United States and in other countries, with the role being in high demand and education for it is supplied by many institutions. Advanced practice nurses aim to use their excellent competencies to help patients in general and more specialized ways, depending on their chosen path. During their education, they improve their abilities to address problems, communicate with patients, and make timely, well-considered decisions, providing improved patient-centered care as a result. They also have numerous and varied career advancement opportunities, though the lack of a system that formalizes them is problematic. Overall, the role is vital to healthcare, and nurses who seek to advance their careers should consider working to attain it.
Chang, H. Y., Chu, T. L., Liao, Y. N., Chang, Y. T., & Teng, C. I. (2019). How do career barriers and supports impact nurse professional commitment and professional turnover intention? Journal of Nursing Management, 27(2), 347-356.
Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. National Academies Press.
McComiskey, C., Simone, S., Schofield, D., McQuillan, K., Andersen, B., Johannes, S., & Weichold, A. (2018). Professional advancement for advanced practice clinicians. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 14(1), 12-17.
Woo, B. F. Y., Lee, J. X. Y., & San Tam, W. W. (2017). The impact of the advanced practice nursing role on the quality of care, clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and cost in the emergency and critical care settings: A systematic review. Human Resources for Health, 15(1), 1-22.