How to Become an APRN

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Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are registered nurses with additional education, training and certifications. These professionals are highly skilled in their area of specialization, and in many cases perform the same duties as medical doctors. Currently there are four areas of specialization: certified registered nurse anesthetist, certified nurse-midwife, clinical nurse specialist and certified nurse practitioner. Given an aging population and a shortage of health care workers, APRN is both a highly needed and respected position.

Earn your RN certification and BSN. All APRNs need to have attained their RN certification and BSN as prerequisites before advancing their education and attaining board certification.

Choose one of the four specialty areas. There are currently four roles for an APRN to concentrate on and practice. You will need to choose one of these specialties: certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse-midwife (CNM), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or certified nurse practitioner (CNP).

Earn your MSN. The minimum educational requirement to become an APRN is a master's in nursing, although some decide to pursue a doctor's level degree. The educational program will focus on the specialty chosen and on the prospective patients in that field.

Take and pass your specialty certification. Once you have attained the educational requirements, you will be required to take a certification examination to attain your board certification. Each of these specialties has a different certification exam.


Since state regulations may differ slightly, check with your state board for specifics.

Join the national organization for your specialty. Although not required, this is the best way to stay current in your field. These organizations will provide up to date information, tools, and resources for you.