APRN Explained


Why APRN? – APRN Certification Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) have grown in numbers and clinical capabilities over the past years with nurse practitioners, registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists playing an integral More »

Compare NP Study Approaches

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APRN Explained copy

What is an APRN?

An APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) is a graduate-level educated clinical practitioner that delivers direct patient care.  These currently include certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse practitioners. More »

APRN Clinicians for health

APRN Education Model

NP / APRN Certification Educational Requirements Explained The APRN Education Model was developed by a large consortium of nurse educators and concerned parties from across the country and emphasizes a broader foundational base while More »

NP / APRN Certification Roles

            NP / APRN Certification Roles APRNs make up four different roles or specialties: Nurse Practitioners (CNP) Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) Clinical Nurse More »

Best Approach to Studying for the APRN Certification Exams

aprn certification exams

APRN Certification Exams

When studying for the APRN Certification Exams, whichever you choose, your approach will be the same. You will want to immerse yourself in the clinical content for a good two to three months.

But how do you do that while still working and supporting yourself and your family?

The key will be to “find ways” to study throughout the day.

aprn certification examsYou don’t want to go to work and see patients during the day, and then study for the exam at night and on weekends. You need to be constantly reviewing while you see patients. . . that way you can study AND work all day! Find an on-line review course (MedcertNP.com) that you can access on your smart phone or tablet. In between patients, while you wait for the kids, on your lunch and breaks, on the toilet. . . whenever you have a free moment, turn on your phone and go to that site and review.

aprn certification examsAlso have APRN certification exam review manuals in your pocket or bag (Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Intensive Review: Fast Facts and Practice Questions by Codina Leik or Adult Nurse Practitioner: Certification Review by Zerwekh & Claborn), and when you get a hypothyroid patient, take 10 minutes and quickly review the highlights of the disease process.

Ask yourself:

  1. What classic clinical characteristics does this patient have that are consistent with their disorder?
  2. What classic clinical characteristics don’t they have? (you will still remember that they didn’t have what they were supposed to have)
  3. What medications should they be on?
  4. What medications aren’t they on that might be an option later?
  5. What tests have they had and what tests do they need?
  6. What maintenance studies will they need and at what interval?

aprn certification examsBy reviewing the cardinal symptoms of a disorder, and then comparing it to the actual symptoms of a presenting patient, you will be able to solidify your learning of the topic by having a mental visual of the patient.  It is much easier to remember at real person and attach facts to them (what they had and didn’t have), rather than trying to simply memorize “random clinical facts.”

This is just one approach.  What methods have you found that work? Comment below.

APRN Certification Exam Prep Moves Beyond Books

aprn certification exam

APRN Certification Exam

While APRN’s consolidate into specific specialties and eliminate others, our approach to learning and studying for the APRN certification exam has remained somewhat limited to books, manuals, and live classes.

As APRNs forge the foundation for future generations, some of us are still stuck on the learning approaches of prior generations. By and large reading a book requires: the book and the time to read it.  While books will be around for the foreseeable future, newer technologies are becoming available, and we need to encourage the formation of more mobile and technologically adaptive study material for all of our specialties.

Computer-based learning (like computer based testing) is the wave of the future. All of the resources of the modern day internet including pharmacology data and interactions, webinars, virtual flash cards, review questions, and more are all available on your mobile device as you study for the APRN Certification exam.

While the APRN certification exam is computer generated and scored, our review material lags woefully behind. There are some pioneers in web-based review.

Fitzgerald’s NPXPERT is in the early stages of what will be truly needed down the road, and MedcertNP‘s all online review is available for adult/geriatric NP’s related to primary care, gerontology, acute care, and CNS wellness. These two forward thinking companies will be the wave of the future and are positioned for success; and the people reserving ballrooms at select hotels for live conferences will find their registrant population shrinking.

The fact is, no one can learn in one, two, or three day spans at conferences that shoot information at you at a rapid fire pace. The majority of what they present will be forgotten before you get home. Many have good handouts or manuals, but much of the value is what is said by the instructors, and how they say it.

Also in this fast paced world, setting aside the time to travel to attend a live course is quickly becoming antiquated. The good news is. . . helpful websites are popping up all the time!

aprn certification examBooks will always have a place, but interactive learning is the wave of the future.

When preparing for your APRN certification, you want to use a wide variety of resources (on-line review courses, texts, and question books) and apply your clinical experiences to solidify the content you need to remember for these all-important exams.

Work together, share concepts and study tips, and think about forming study groups.

As medical technologies and research outcomes advance, we will need to form a system for constant review, course correction, and information updates.  To our parents, that was called the “new edition” of a textbook, for us that approach is not practical, nor timely,and simply will not do. We need updates as they happen.  Only on-line content, that is constantly updated, can provide the minute to minute revisions demanded by modern medicine.

NPs Change to APRNs

NPs change to APRNsAPRN Logo

NPs change to APRNs

You can say that you were around when advanced practice nurses consolidated into a uniform approach to practice and credentialing. In other words, how NPs change to APRNs.  APRNcertification.com was developed to give you an unbiased perspective on the  process and give you some valuable resources to use in your certification preparation.

When all is said and done, clinical information is clinical information.  Your problem is learning and retaining enough information to not only pass the exam, but also be a positive force in your patient’s health journey.

APRN Consensus

With over 267,000 advanced practice nurses in the country, there are a lot of changes related to certification content, material expected to learn, levels of detail, re-certification intervals, grandfather clauses, and more. As NPs change to APRNs, we will sort out these details, what is true today, may not be true tomorrow. Some specialties will fade away, while newer sub-specialties come into view.

NPs change to APRNsOne of the tenets of the “medical home” is leaving specialized care and protocols to specialized personnel who, data has shown, have better outcomes. In ICU’s, outpatient surgery clinics, schools, and more, APRNs have been trusted to manage the care of patients within these settings, and in some cases, do better, than a clinician with a broad range of responsibilities.

Learning what you need to know, applying it responsibly and equitably in the health care arena, is the responsibility of all APRNs.



Which APRN Certification Exam Should I Take?

APRN Certification Exam

With the transitions occurring in the advanced practice nursing arena (APRN), its hard to know which certification exam to take, what’s on the exam, and what will be different a year from now. The APRN Certification requirements are changing, and you need to know what is changing to what, when, and how will it effect your initial certification, and re-certification down the road.

There are resources like the American Nurses Credentialing Center that offer a range of exams and provide a listing of what exams are available, and what exams being retired.  The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is another option that offers a defined set of exams.

Because of the unification mandated by the “APRN Consensus Model” you can choose whichever approved certification option you want. . . and again the two main options are the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Our sense is once the dust settles (and who know how long that will take), a vast majority of APRN’s will gravitate toward one or the other certification center.  Like VHS vs Betamax, or more recently plasma TV’s vs LED TV’s, one will fad away.  And there will be consequences (who knows how small or large) for those who picked the wrong side, so don’t flip a coin.

There will be changes, for example, the “adult” specialty will now always include geriatrics (which makes sense for our progressively aging population), in the past, gerontology was separate so starting NOW All adult-only exams change to adult-gerontology exams. 

There are now four distinct certifications for:

  1. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP
  2. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
  3. Pediatric Primary Care NP
  4. Pediatric Acute Care NP

All CNS exams will cover from wellness to the acute care setting.

There will also be exams for the following specialties:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Primary Care)
  • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (wellness through acute care)
  • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (across the lifespan)

The following exams have stopped, or will be stopped over the next year:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner exam
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner exam
  • Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (wellness -> acute care) exam available mid-2014

There is also variability in the actual demographics of the APRN Certification exam question break-downs:

And don’t be superficial and choose the AANPCP 3 hour test just because its shorter, or the ANCC test because you have more time per question.  You will need to ask your NP clinical colleagues their opinions and experiences, and then do some soul searching.  Think about re-certification and ease of the process, and think about the viability of the company you choose.  They both consist of well-intention-ed nurses, but one or the other may not be around in a few years, and if you choose them, what is your back up plan.