What is Advanced Practice Nursing?

In an increasingly complex health care industry, advanced practice nurses are playing a vital role.

They are offering new ways of delivering cost-effective care and increasing access to qualified practitioners for many patients and their families. They are often providing health care to under-served populations. Advanced practice nurses must be grounded in theory and research as guides to their clinical practice. While they work in collegial capacities with physicians, they must be prepared to diagnose and treat patients with acute and chronic illnesses and to prescribe medications. These responsibilities require nursing professionals who are as smart and savvy as they are caring and compassionate.

Advanced Practice Nurses perform these general functions:

  • Obtain health histories and perform comprehensive physical examinations, including psychosocial, functional, and developmental assessment
  • Order and interpret lab results and other diagnostic studies
  • Develop differential diagnoses
  • Develop/order therapeutic plan of care
  • Maintain patient records
  • Evaluate patient’s response to plan of care and modify as needed
  • Provide patient/family counseling and education
  • Arrange for patient referrals/consultations
  • Participate in research studies

At Vanderbilt, we prepare advanced practice nurses for assuming such independent direct care positions as Nurse Practitioner and Nurse-Midwife. We also prepare nurses for advanced nursing practice through indirect care in roles such as Nurse Informaticist and Nurse Leader (Nursing and Health Care Leadership). The Vanderbilt Master's of Science in Nursing degree program includes clinical training; a rigorous, high-quality curriculum; and learning in a research environment that fosters evidence-based education and patient care. As a result, nursing professionals educated at Vanderbilt are today’s leaders in nursing – advancing our discipline and offering new solutions.