Advanced Practice Nurses and Their Specialties

Among registered nurses in 2008, only 8.2 percent had received the education and training to work as an advanced practice nurse, according to a national sample survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Out of that percentage, many chose to specialize as NPs, CRNAs, CNSs, or CNMs.

Nurse practitioners made up 63.2 percent of advanced practice nurses in 2008. They are trained in the diagnosis and management of medical conditions and treat their patients’ through physical exams, physical therapy, and prescribing tests and medications. Out of the registered nurses that have been licensed to work as nurse practitioners, 64.3 report working in a position where they have the title of nurse practitioner, 10.3 percent have the title of a staff nurse, 6.2 percent have titles in the area of instruction, and 5.4 percent have management or administration titles.

Thirty-four percent of advanced practice nurses specialized as Certified Nurse Anesthetists. Nurse anesthetists are trained to administer anesthesia to patients undergoing medical, obstetrical, or dental procedures. Along with administering the medication, they also determine how anesthetics will affect patients and carefully monitor them while they are receiving it. Out of the registered nurses that have been licensed to work as nurse anesthetists, 84.7 percent report working in a position where they have the title of nurse anesthetist, and 4.4 percent have a title of a staff nurse.

Of the advanced practice nurses, 42.4 specialized as clinical nurse specialists. These nurse are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and find nursing interventions based on evidence. They work to improve nursing practices and health care programs through clinical expertise and experimentation. Out of the registered nurses that have been licensed to work as clinical nurse specialists, 18.4 percent report working in a position where they have that same title, 20.8 percent have titles in the area of instruction, 17.5 have management or administration titles, and 6.1 percent have titles like school nurse, patient coordinator, and public health nurse.

The smallest percentage, 15.3 percent, of advanced practice nurses specialized as Certified Nurse Midwives. Trained in both nursing and midwifery, they serve as primary healthcare providers for women. Most often they provide medical care for healthy pregnant women that are not considered to have high risk pregnancies. Out of the registered nurses that have been licensed to work as nurse-midwives, 37.6 percent report working in a position where they have the title of nurse midwife, 33.3 percent have staff nurse titles, 4.9 percent have that of a patient coordinator, and 3.9 percent have titles in the area of instruction.

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