Adult nurse practitioners (ANPs) focus on providing primary health care to adults, although the definition of this broad patient population focus includes patients from age twelve through the senior years. As such, the role of an ANP may overlap with the roles of family NPs, pediatric NPs, or gerontological NPs. Adult nurse practitioners work with a broad enough patient population to be considered generalists, putting them in a particularly good position to serve as primary care providers. This is very often the case in medically underserved areas where general practitioners are needed to provide advanced-level diagnosis and treatment to the greatest number of people within a community.
Adult nurse practitioners evaluate, diagnose, and manage common, acute, and chronic health problems among adolescents, adults, and the elderly, and also educate their patients on wellness strategies and disease prevention. Adult nurse practitioners can choose to further specialize in areas of practice ranging from women’s health, to cardiovascular or cardiopulminary care, to mental health care, depending on their experience and the needs of the communities in which they work.
Education and Degree Options
Becoming licensed as a nurse practitioner generalist and recognized as a specialist in the adult patient population focus requires an advanced degree, either a master’s, post-master’s certificate, or doctorate, followed by national certification. The most common path is to complete a Master of Science In Nursing nurse practitioner generalist program, or an MSN program that focuses on the adult/gerontological or family patient populations. Master’s programs are most common as they satisfy the minimum educational eligibility requirements for attempting the national certification exams offered through either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Most schools offering ANP programs structure them as a combination of the adult and gerontological patient populations, in accordance with the emerging National Council of State Boards of Nursing Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Consensus Model, which defines the adult patient population to be inclusive of the geriatric patient population. Other programs offer a specialty focus in areas such as acute care and gender focused care for the adult patient population.
All qualified advanced degree programs will cover the advanced practice nursing core competencies of advanced physical/health assessment, advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology within the patient population.
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) offers an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP certification for registered nurses who have an active, current license in the U.S. and who graduate from an accredited master’s, post-master’s, or doctoral level nurse practitioner program in the U.S. or Canada. AANPCP will continue to offer the ANP (Adult Nurse Practitioner) certification independently till about 2015, at which point it is expected to be retired. Applicants must have successfully completed at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical practice hours, as well as courses in advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced physical assessment.
After approval of their applications, nurses have 120 days to take the 150-question certification exam at a Prometric Testing Center. Recertification is every five years. ANPs have the option of qualifying for recertification by fulfilling practice hour minimum requirements and continuing education, or by taking a recertification exam if these other criteria aren’t met.
Adult nurse practitioners also can obtain the primary care certification ANP-BC through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). To be eligible to take the computer-based certification exam, nurses must have a current, active RN license in the United States or the equivalent in another country and have completed an adult nurse practitioner program at the master’s, post-master’s, or doctoral level. The program must have accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). The program must also have included:
- At least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours
- Three different classes in advanced pathophysiology, advanced physical/health assessment, and advanced pharmacology
- Subject matter that covered promoting health, preventing disease, differential diagnosis, and managing disease
Recertification is pursued five years and requires professional development.
Although there are no national associations specific to the ANP patient population, ANPs routinely join elective membership associations like the American College of Nurse Practitioners and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
ANPs who specialize in a particular area may be interested in related associations such as the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, the National Academy of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners, or the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health.
The National Salary Report 2011published by Advance for NPs and PAs provides the following full-time average salaries for nurse practitioners in settings where ANPs commonly work:
The 2011 American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) National NP Compensation Survey showed the average base salary for adult nurse practitioners to be $93,990. When factoring in benefits including educational allowance and retirement contributions, the average among the survey’s respondents was $98,160.