Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) include family nurse practitioners who provide nursing and primary care services to individual patients and their families. Their advanced training allows them to, according to state regulations, provide many of the same healthcare services offered by physicians to patients across the age span, including diagnosing and treating health problems and minor injuries, performing prenatal, child, and adult care checkups, instructing patients on how to prevent diseases and stay healthy, and providing referrals for patients to other healthcare providers, including physicians, pharmacists, and psychologists. They may also serve as patient advocates and healthcare researchers or consultants. Family nurse practitioners are employed in primary care offices, emergency rooms, clinics, and long-term care facilities, or in their own private practice.
MSN programs have traditionally educated advance practice registered nurses (APRNs), but member schools affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) will have transitioned their master’s programs for APRNs to the doctorate level by 2015. Coursework for family nurse practitioners typically includes pharmacology, pathophysiology, ethics for nurses and other health care professionals, and the history of health care policy. Supervised clinical experience provides students with the opportunity to provide direct care to children and adult patients in neighborhood clinics, extended-care facilities, and ambulatory settings. APRNs must be state-certified in the area of family care and licensed to practice through their state’s nursing board.