What are the Types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)?

Types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)

Pursuing a career as a nurse is one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, and satisfying careers, as nurses genuinely make a difference and impact in their patients’ and their families’ lives.

However, for some people, nursing and becoming an RN (registered nurse) is just the beginning of their care journey. Commonly, registered nurses go on to pursue advanced practice roles where they can enjoy more autonomy in their role, specialize in a specific area of nursing, and earn a high-paying salary.

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are nurses who have pursued advanced education and credentialing, and therefore have the ability to diagnose patients, manage disease, and take on a primary role in patient care. There are various types of APRNs, with roles varying based on their specialty.

Let’s explore some of the most popular types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in depth, and see how candidates can pursue these careers with advanced nursing degrees.

What is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)?

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are registered nurses (RNs) who have earned a graduate-level degree in a particular area of nursing. Through this education, they have gained advanced knowledge in their dedicated field of focus, and can therefore provide care to particular populations.

While the daily tasks and responsibilities of APRNs vary depending on their specialization, they will, like nurses, analyze data such as a patient’s symptoms, problems, and medical history to determine proper plans of care as well as collect lab samples, perform diagnostic tests, and stay up to date on current and relevant medical practices.

Unlike registered nurses who cannot prescribe medication, some advanced practice registered nurses have prescriptive authority, depending on their specialty and the state where they practice. They also have more autonomy in their careers, having the ability to manage patient cases, from diagnosis to treatment, much like a primary care clinician.

Advanced practice registered nurses work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, ambulatory healthcare services, nursing and residential care facilities, government offices, educational institutions, and even healthcare policy settings.

What are the Types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)?

Nurses looking to advance their knowledge and skills while accepting more responsibility, autonomy, and career potential often look toward becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

Three of the most common types of advanced practice registered nurses include family nurse practitioners (FNPs), psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs), and nurse practitioners (NPs).

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs)

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse whose education specializes in family practice. These individuals generally work in family practice as primary care providers (PCPs) with patients ranging from infants to elderly. Additionally, like all advanced practice nurses, they have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and hold a master’s or doctoral degree.

Family nurse practitioners can work under a doctor’s supervision or independently, depending on the state where they practice. For example, in Connecticut, family nurse practitioners can work independently after three years of doctor supervision. With this, FNPs often serve as primary care providers for patients.

Family nurse practitioners will often provide the following services:

  • Preventative health services and health education
  • Disease management care and guidance
  • Prescribe medication to patients
  • Treatment of minor acute injuries
  • Management of chronic conditions

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs)

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who focus on providing patient-centered, holistic care in order to treat mental health disorders and other physical conditions.

These trained, skilled, and licensed professionals help patients suffering from various mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anorexia, bulimia, and substance abuse. They make diagnoses, advocate for patients, administer and monitor treatment plans, and prescribe medication when needed.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners generally work full-time in dedicated mental health and psychiatric facilities or departments within larger hospitals, though some do find work in independent practice.

Furthermore, as mental healthcare may be needed at all stages of one’s life, these professionals can work with children, teens, adults, and seniors. Though some psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners further specialize in areas like child psychiatric medicine.


At Goodwin University, we offer APRN-FNP and APRN-PMHNP programs to help you advance your healthcare career. Check out our downloadable FNP and PMHNP Get Started Guides to discover which is the right fit for your future!


Other Types of Nurse Practitioners (NPs)

Among the various types of advanced practice registered nurses, there is a nurse practitioner (NP). These providers can be generalized, focusing on patient care holistically for a range of demographics, or focus their care on a particular specialization within the medical field and specific age groups, populations, or health conditions. Some other NP specializations include:

  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s Health
  • Oncology
  • Adult-gerontology
  • Psychiatry

Nurse practitioners diagnose patients, treat and prevent conditions, and educate patients on healthy living habits. This involves performing patient assessments, ordering tests, delivering diagnoses, and administering immunizations and treatment plans.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not list the above career paths individually, they do report that all nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioners (FNPs) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs), make a median annual salary of $121,610 and have an employment growth rate of 45 percent between 2022 and 2032.

How to Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Whether you want to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), or specialize in another area of the medical field as a nurse practitioner (NP), it all starts with earning a master’s degree.

For example, pursuing a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program would be a great choice if you are passionate about working with families and patients of all ages. These programs enhance students’ skills in leadership and communication, research and reasoning, and physical assessment and diagnosis through real-life scenarios, applications, and clinical experiences.

Or, if you are more interested in helping others navigate and handle mental health issues and disorders, look into a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. These programs provide the resources and knowledge advanced practitioners need to work with patients and teach them how to handle stress and make positive and healthy life choices.

Lastly, if you want to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner, consider obtaining a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), which can also open doors to career opportunities as nurse administrators, nurse managers, and public health leaders.

Every college, university, and program will vary in degree and time requirements, so students should research to know what will be expected of them. At Goodwin University, students can achieve our advanced nursing degrees on the following timelines:

Contact us today to learn more about all of our graduate-level nursing programs. We can’t wait to help you through your graduate education and into a career as an advanced practice registered nurse.

Start your future today!