An Advanced Practice Nurse is a specialist in the field of nursing who has a larger skill set and more responsibility. If you are a registered nurse and you would like to research how you can advance your nursing career, it is important to plan ahead so that you know how to get your specialized certification and what type of degree program you need to attend. Before you can even sit for your APN certification exam, you need to have completed an advanced program and gained a minimum amount of professional clinical care experience. Read on, and find out step-by-step what you must do to become an Advanced Practice Nursing Specialist.

Become a Registered Nurse

The first step to advanced practice nursing is to become a registered nurse. The type of program that you must take to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam may depend on the state that you work in, but most states require the minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Be sure to see if you want take a special Associate's degree or certificate program if you already possess your bachelor's degree in another field.

Earn a Master's of Science in Nursing

The requirements to become an APN are much more stringent then they are for general nursing professionals. Since you need to have superior clinical skills, you will need to take advanced coursework that will make you an expert in diagnoses and treatments. You should be sure to find an accredited program that holds a credential through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing so that you know all of your credits will count towards certification.

Choose a Specialty and Enroll for the Test

There are several different specialties in Advanced Practice Nursing that you can choose from. The specialty that you choose depends on the setting that you want to work in and the type of care you want to provide. You can become a Certified Nurse-Midwife, a Nurse Anesthetist, a Nurse Practitioner, or a Certified Nurse Specialist. You can also choose from other specialties like cardiology, oncology, pediatrics, and acute care.

Once you have decided on a specialty, you need to enroll of the specialty tests that you must take to be classified as a APN. While a MSN is a strict requirement all across the nation, you must navigate through certification requirements when you choose a specialty. These vary and can be very complicated if you are not set on a specialty.

Search for a Job

Once you have the test under your belt and you have completed the necessary paperwork, you can legally practice as an APN. It is important to do your homework on potential openings for APN's in your area before you choose an area for specialization, so that the demand for professionals is high. This will help you land a high-paying position quickly.

Related Resource: Doctor of Nursing

Health Care Reform legislature has changed the way that society has access to medical care, according to Nursing World. These changes has created a need for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who can help to treat and diagnose in certain settings. Now is the time to enroll in a graduate program so that you can expand your skill set and become an Advanced Practice Nurse.