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What is an advanced practice nurse?

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Updated January 21, 2009

What is an advanced practice nurse? Seth Joel/Getty Images
Question: What is an advanced practice nurse?
Answer:

Advanced practice nurses (APN) include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives, and nurse anesthetists. All APNs are registered nurses who have completed advanced training, and very often have achieved a master's degree in nursing.

Advanced practice nurses work in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and private practices, among others. In some cases, APNs can prescribe medications and refer patients to specialists. The work responsibilities of an APN vary from state to state, but most often revolve around health maintenance, disease prevention, patient counseling, and patient education.

When it comes to stroke care, the Brain Attack Coalition (the very entity that created the recommendations for stroke treatments in the Untited States) recommends that at least one APN is a part of the primary stroke centers, and acute stroke teams, in which they play a vital role. APNs are especially beneficial when it comes to the development of stroke care protocols, research activities, educational programs, quality assurance, and other important matters.

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