Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) have expanded in numbers and capabilities over the past several decades with APRNs being highly valued and an integral part of the health care system. Because of the importance of APRNs in caring for the current and future health needs of patients, the education, accreditation, certification and licensure of APRNs need to be effectively aligned in order to continue to ensure patient safety while expanding patient access to APRNs.
APRNs include certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse practitioners. Each has a unique history and context, but shares the commonality of being APRNs. While education, accreditation, and certification are necessary components of an overall approach to preparing an APRN for practice, the licensing boards-governed by state regulations and statutes-are the final arbiters of who is recognized to practice within a given state. Currently, there is no uniform model of regulation of APRNs across the states. Each state independently determines the APRN legal scope of practice, the roles that are recognized, the criteria for entry-into advanced practice and the certification examinations accepted for entry-level competence assessment. This has created a significant barrier for APRNs to easily move from state to state and has decreased access to care for patients.
Many nurses with advanced graduate nursing preparation practice in roles and specialties (e.g., informatics, public health, education, or administration) that are essential to advance the health of the public but do not focus on direct care to individuals and, therefore, their practice does not require regulatory recognition beyond the Registered Nurse license granted by state boards of nursing. Like the four current APRN roles, practice in these other advanced specialty nursing roles requires specialized knowledge and skills acquired through graduate-level education. Although extremely important to the nursing profession and to the delivery of safe, high quality patient care, these other advanced, graduate nursing roles, which do not focus on direct patient care, are not roles for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) and are not the subject or focus of the Regulatory Model presented in this paper.
The model for APRN regulation is the product of substantial work conducted by the Advanced Practice Nursing Consensus Work Group and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) APRN Committee. While these groups began work independent of each other, they came together through representatives of each group participating in what was labeled the APRN Joint Dialogue Group. The outcome of this work has been unanimous agreement on most of the recommendations included in this document. In a few instances, when agreement was not unanimous a 66 percent majority was used to determine the final recommendation. However, extensive dialogue and transparency in the decision-making process is reflected in each recommendation. The background