What is an APRN?
An APRN is a nurse with a graduate degree who has been licensed in an advanced role that builds on the competencies of registered nurses (RNs).
Licensure as an APRN is contingent upon completion of an accredited graduate-level education program and passage of a national certification examination.
APRNs in Alaska are licensed independent providers with full prescriptive authority.
The four APRN roles are
Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP),
Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM),
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).
APRNs practice throughout Alaska in both inpatient and outpatient settings. There are 902 ANPs (CNP/CNM/CNS) and 164 CRNAs licensed in Alaska.
SB 53 changed these designations, ANP and CRNA, to APRN. The APRN Alliance is working closely with the Alaska Board of Nursing to update state regulations, and the Board will soon be issuing licenses using the APRN title.
Certified Nurse Practitioner
CNPs are members of the health delivery system, practicing autonomously in areas as diverse as family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics, and women’s health care. CNPs are prepared to diagnose and treat patients with undifferentiated symptoms, as well as those with established diagnoses.
In 2015, there were 590 licensed CNPs living and practicing in Alaska. On average an individual NP provides 2112 primary care visits a year and in 2015 they provided a total of 910,272 such visits throughout the state. 37.7% of NPs practice in medically underserved communities; 73% accept Medicare; 83% accept Medicaid.
The Alaska Nurse Practitioner Association (ANPA) is a non-profit organization whose membership consists of Nurse Practitioners and NP students in the State of Alaska.
A CNM provides a full range of primary health care services to women throughout the lifespan, including gynecologic care, family planning services, preconception care, prenatal and postpartum care, child birth, and care of the newborn. The practice includes treating the male partner of their female clients for sexually transmitted disease and reproductive health.
The American College of Nurse Midwives represents CNMs across the country, dating back to 1929. ACNM is the oldest women’s health care organization in the US. The Alaska Affiliate of ACNM is active throughout the state, advocating for women’s health care issues and the midwifery profession in the Great Land.
The Alaska ACNM Affiliate has 78 members. This is a reasonable proxy for the number of CNMs practicing throughout the state. There were 8,353 vaginal births in Alaska during 2016; CNMs attended 2,862 (34.3%) of them, up from 32.3% in 2015.
Read about essential facts about midwives, as well as the Vision, Mission, Values, and Future Focus of the ACNM and the midwifery profession in the US.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
A CRNA is prepared to provide the full spectrum of patients’ anesthesia care and anesthesia-related care to individuals across the lifespan, whose health status may range from healthy through all recognized levels of acuity, including persons with immediate, severe, or life-threatening illnesses or injury.
CRNAs practice in every setting where anesthesia is available and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America including rural Alaska. They administer every type of anesthetic, and provide care for every type of surgery or procedure, from open heart to cataract to pain management.
Alaska CRNAs work in medical facilities and outpatient offices across the state: 4 in Southeast (Sitka & Ketchikan); 90+ in Southcentral (Palmer, Anchorage, Kenai/Soldotna, Valdez & Homer); 4 in western Alaska (Bethel); 11 in the Interior (Fairbanks); and 2 in Kodiak. These numbers include 15 military members serving at JBER or Eileson AFB and 4 – 8 student NAs training at ANMC in Anchorage.
AKANA, the Alaska Association of Nurse Anesthetistis, is the state organization representing over 100 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in Alaska.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A CNS is a unique APRN role that integrates care across the continuum and through three spheres of influence: patient, nurse and system. The three spheres are overlapping and interrelated, but each sphere possesses a distinctive focus. The primary goal of a CNS is continuous improvement of patient outcomes and nursing care.
Approximately 12 CNSs are licensed in Alaska. An additional 5 CNSs serve in the military here. CNSs have reduced readmission rates in Alaska for patients with COPD and healthcare associated infections. They lead the charge toward highly efficient, safe care through improved patient outcomes.
The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is a membership organization devoted to advancing the unique expertise and values the clinical nurse specialist brings to delivering high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care and to reducing the cost of health care delivery. NACNS has more than 2,000 members and represents the more than 70,000 clinical nurse specialists working in hospitals and health systems, clinics and ambulatory settings and colleges and universities today.