Advanced Practice Nurses
Advanced practice nurses begin as registered nurses, and can initially qualify by completing an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. Moving into advanced practice requires a combination of specialized clinical training and a graduate degree, usually a master's or a doctorate. There are four categories of advanced practice. Nurse practitioners provide primary health care in general practice. Nurse-midwives practice obstetric and gynecological care, and nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia services during surgical procedures. Clinical nurse specialists can choose from a variety of clinical specializations, such as oncology, psychiatry or pediatrics.
Licensed practical nurses, commonly called LPNs, are often utilized in settings where the additional skills and training of a registered nurse aren't required, such as extended-care facilities and retirement homes. In hospitals or clinics, they might be used to provide routine care under the supervision of a registered nurse. Ambitious LPNs can take advantage of various programs to upgrade their skills and training, becoming registered nurses themselves. Advanced practice nurses are skilled practitioners in their own right, often serving as primary caregivers in areas where doctors are difficult to recruit or retain. They're among the highest-paid of all nurses, frequently exceeding $100,000 per year in income.
Income and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2011 that the median income of LPNs was $41,150 per year, while the median for registered nurses was $65,950. Advanced practice nurses can earn much more. Nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid, with an average annual income of $168,998, according to staffing firm Locum Tenens. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that the demand for licensed practical nurses will grow by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for registered nurses will increase by 26 percent during the same interval.
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