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What is an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) and what are their roles?

A nurse practitioner holds an elderly patient's hand in the hospital.

Advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) and the various roles they do

The role of nurses in the UK is constantly changing and evolving in response to increasing demand and changes in healthcare needs, as well as the challenges that these bring. These changes include an ageing population, many of whom feel isolated; an increase in the incidence and prevalence of long-term conditions; rising public demand; increased availability of new healthcare technologies and treatments; inefficient healthcare systems; the emergence of new and unknown viruses and infections; and rising healthcare costs, all during a period of financial austerity. 

It is not surprising, then, that the focus of national policy is on finding innovative solutions to long-standing problems, cost-effectiveness, evaluating the effectiveness of health interventions on patient outcomes, health protection and prevention, quality improvement, and cost reduction through improved safety. Nurses have always responded to the healthcare needs of their patients and clients and developed their roles accordingly, and the advanced nurse practitioner is no exception. 

In this article, we will learn more about what an ANP is, its roles, and how to become one. 

What is an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP)?

A nurse who has completed a master's degree in clinical practice is known as an Advanced Nursing Practitioner (ANP). An ANP has diagnostic authority and is trusted to assess, diagnose, manage, and care for patients with complex clinical issues. ANPs complete additional qualifications in addition to their nursing training, allowing them to assess and treat patients while also being accountable for their decisions. They are not physicians and have not completed medical school. 

These nurses can work in emergency, primary, and acute care settings and have a higher level of education and experience than most other nurses. Advanced nurse practitioners use complex reasoning, critical thinking, reflection, and analysis to inform their assessments, clinical judgments, and decisions. They can put their knowledge and skills to use in a wide range of clinically and professionally challenging and complex situations. 

These nursing backgrounds of an ANP can help to improve the overall care experience a patient receives by focusing on the patient experience rather than biomedicine, limiting their medical decision-making compared to doctors. Their insider knowledge of the healthcare system gained from direct care as a nurse helps bridge the gaps that can occur when multiple healthcare professionals are involved in the care of a single patient. (For example, a doctor may prescribe a treatment that is then carried out by a nurse.) ANPs, like doctors, can participate in research, health promotion, and teaching other members of the healthcare team. 

What can an ANP do? 

The role of the advanced nurse practitioner in the UK was initially introduced as a result of the initiation of a nurse practitioner programme focusing on primary healthcare at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The main aim of introducing the role of ANP was to reduce the overbearing workload of general practitioners (primary care physicians) in the UK. Even today, this is one of the primary reasons for the increasing demand for the role of ANPs in the UK. 

The role of an ANP differs greatly in comparison to that of a general nurse, as an ANP is expected to do more duties than a general nurse because they hold a senior position in the healthcare system in the UK. Currently, ANPs in the UK have both prescriptive authority and work autonomously, which are the two main role qualities that have demonstrated significant advancement in the advanced practice nurse role. The responsibilities of an advanced nurse practitioner can include: 

1. Diagnosing health conditions 
2. Conducting check-ups on patients 
3. Researching patient conditions 
4. Referring patients to specialists 
5. Maintaining patient medical records and history 
6. Prescribing and administering medications 

Where does an advanced nurse practitioner work?

An advanced nurse practitioner can work in various healthcare settings in the UK. An ANP can work as a general practitioner and review patients in a similar way to a GP. Similarly, they can also work in medical or surgical wards and assessment units in a hospital. An ANP normally works as a generalist in these areas, so you are likely to find an ANP who has specialised in a particular field. 

How do I become an advanced nurse practitioner in the UK? 

The route to becoming an advanced nurse practitioner in the UK is longer than that of general nursing, as it requires extensive education and training. Here are the various steps to becoming an ANP: 

1. Become a nurse: The first step in becoming an ANP is to obtain a nursing degree. This will lay a foundation for you regarding various subjects such as biology, anatomy, psychology, and chemistry. 
2. Becoming a registered nurse: In order to practice nursing in the UK, nurses are required to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
3. Getting experience: Once you are fully qualified and registered with the NMC, you will be able to practice nursing in various healthcare settings and gain experience. You can choose to pursue a specialisation and gain the skills and expertise you need. 
4. Embarking on a master's programme: In order to qualify as a nurse practitioner, you are required to complete a master's degree. These courses normally take 1-2 years to complete and are essential for building up your knowledge. 
5. Getting your license and certification: To gain a license, you must complete your master's degree, a 2-year clinical experience placement, and a national certification exam.  

After you have completed the required qualifications, you can decide what type of nurse practitioner you want to be. 

What are the different types of ANP roles?

There are various ranges of advanced nurse practitioner roles you can pursue; some of them are as follows:

1. Acute nurse practitioner: They provide care for both acute and critical diseases and are also able to treat all age groups. They are also qualified to make life-altering decisions. 
2. Cardiac nurse practitioners: They specialised in illnesses related to the heart and cardiovascular system. Such nurses treat patients who are experiencing high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, and blood pressure. 
3. Psychiatric nurse practitioners: They work with mental health patients and are qualified to administer medications and psychotherapies. They work in association with other mental health professionals. 
4. Paediatric nurse practitioner: These ANPs work with children and adolescents, providing preventive care and educating families on managing common health conditions. 

These are just a few specialties you can choose when becoming an ANP. 

How much does an ANP earn in the UK?

The average salary of an advanced nurse practitioner in the UK is approximately £38,429 per annum. However, this can depend on the healthcare setting, your years of experience, how many hours you work, and whether you work privately or for the NHS. 

Nurses Group is a leading nursing staffing agency in the UK, providing experienced and skilled nurses and other healthcare professionals. We have offices in Salisbury, Taunton, and Bournemouth, with our headquarters in Yeovil. We assist in filling staffing gaps in healthcare facilities across the UK. 

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