APRN vs. NP: Advanced Practice RNs/Nurse Practitioners 

picture of a nurse practitioner at a desk with a patient
Written by
Karin Zonneveld
May 9, 2023

Table of Contents

Advanced practice nurses (APRNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) are two very important roles within the nursing profession. Both APRNs and NPs provide invaluable services to patients and communities, while also serving as essential members of a healthcare team.

APRNs are highly trained, specialized nurses who provide a wide range of patient care services. They are often the first point of contact for patients, providing assessments, diagnosis, and treatment options. APRNs also provide health promotion and disease prevention services, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure optimal patient care. 

In contrast, NPs are more specialized health professionals who are qualified to provide comprehensive healthcare services to individuals, families, and communities. They perform physical exams, diagnose illnesses, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications. NPs also collaborate with other healthcare providers to develop plans of care and coordinate follow-up care. 

In this article, we will explore the differences between APRNs and NPs, as well as discuss the various types of APRNs and the roles they play in healthcare. We will also examine the average salary of an APRN and an NP, and discuss the factors that can influence pay. Finally, we will discuss the educational requirements for APRNs and NPs, and review the certification and licensure requirements for both. 

What is an APRN?

An APRN is an advanced practice registered nurse. This nursing professional has completed advanced specialized education in a nursing discipline, usually a master's degree in nursing science (MSN), after obtaining a registered nurse (RN) license and sufficient clinical experience. Generally, APRNs have qualifications and nurse training to care for patients on their own, without the help of a physician. This means they can diagnose patients, order labs and tests, prescribe treatments and medications, etc.

APRNs provide all types of healthcare, from general care to more specific care, such as pediatric care, oncology, mental health, neonatology, family practice, preventive medicine, and other specialties.

From Salary to Jobs - Learn More About APRNs Here

4 Types of APRNs

There are four paths that APRNs usually follow, these four paths are:

  • Nurse practitioner (NP)
  • Certified nurse midwife (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

Nurse Practitioner Salary and Other Information

As can be appreciated, NPs are a specialty branch of APRNs. NPs hold a master's degree in nursing. In general, specialization pathways for RNs are decisions made to advance in the nursing career, earn higher salaries, receive access to better job opportunities, and have a chance to apply their clinical knowledge more freely.

Nurse practitioners evaluate patients, diagnose illnesses, create treatment regimens, prescribe medications when necessary, assess patients, perform physical exams, order labs, and do health education. They may specialize in different clinical areas such as neonatal care, pediatrics, family care, acute care, primary care, psychiatric health, or women's health. They may work in hospitals, independent practices, clinics, or other healthcare facilities, including corporations, military bases, or other non-healthcare settings. They may work independently or side-by-side with a physician.

The average medium NP salary is $118,040 per year, varying greatly from state to state and from hospital to hospital, and depending on the cost of living in each state. However, if NPs find per diem jobs, they can earn higher hourly wages and more money annually.

Discover the Average Nurse Practitioner Salary and Job Information Here

What is a CRNA?

A nurse anesthetist also called a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), is a type of APRN who administers anesthesia for all types of surgeries, from the simplest to the most complicated. CRNAs are considered one of the highest-paid jobs in the nursing profession, as their work is highly specialized and important. They are responsible for administering anesthesia and pre and post-anesthesia care along with physicians and anesthesiologists.

The anesthesia process and care administered by CRNAs usually fall into four categories:

  • Anesthesia preparation and pre-anesthesia patient assessment.
  • Anesthesia induction, anesthesia maintenance, and emergency management.
  • Post-anesthesia care, from the moment the patient awakens to all the related post-anesthetic care.
  • Clinical and peri-anesthetic functions.

All functions of anesthesia care are equally important, and CRNAs work in different settings within hospitals and wherever anesthesia is needed for any procedure. There are also sub-specializations within this profession, for example, to apply anesthesia in purely pediatric settings, geriatrics, emergency situations, and numerous others.

The median CRNA salary is estimated to be $195,610 per year, which is among the highest pay that can be obtained within the RN specialties due to their high level of training, and other factors that influence CRNAs to be highly sought after at all levels.

PRN Jobs for APRNs and NPs

PRN (pro re nata) jobs, also called per diem because they are jobs taken on a shift or per diem basis, are temporary jobs that tend to be in high demand for nursing professionals of all branches. APRNs such as NPs and CRNAs are especially sought after and offered higher hourly pay than normal.

What is a Nurse Anesthetist, and What's the Average CRNA Salary?

Finally, PRN jobs have the advantage of working in different settings and getting to know different healthcare facilities and hospitals, gaining a lot of experience along the way, and flexibility, which is a huge advantage for all RNs.

Blog published on:
May 9, 2023

Meet Karin, a dietitian and contributing copywriter for Nursa, who is passionate about compassion in healthcare, nutrition, and raising awareness and support for people with autism.

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