If you pay attention to nurse practitioner scope of practice laws, or have gone through the process of NP certification, you know how confusing laws, licensure, and certification can be when it comes to advanced practice nursing. A set of recommendations from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the APRN Consensus Model, seeks to change this. While these standardization guidelines have not been fully implemented in most states, NPs are beginning to notice changes to their practice as a result.
The APRN Consensus Model’s effect on nurse practitioner specialties and certification
Unlike many state boards of nursing, nurse practitioner certifying bodies are up to date with the changes recommended by the APRN Consensus Model. The ANCC and AAPNCP, the two most prominent NP certifying bodies will have these changes fully implemented by 2015. As a result, some certification exams and recognized nurse practitioner specialties will be changing.
One of the goals of the APRN Consensus Model is to standardize nurse practitioner specialties across the board. To do this, some nurse practitioner certifications and their corresponding exams will be retired beginning in 2015. The following certifications are slated for retirement: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
New specialty certifications are taking the place of these outdated specialties. For example, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner designations are taking place of the more general Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult Nurse Practitioner certifications. Other new specialty certifications taking place of those that are being retired include: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. The Family Nurse Practitioner title is to remain the same.
If I am already a nurse practitioner, will I need to re-certify?
If you are already a nurse practitioner, there’s no need to worry. Changes to current certification exams won’t affect you. There is no need to change your certification specialty or retake the NP certification exam. Nurse practitioners holding an active certification will be allowed to continue practicing and recertify without completing any new initial certification requirements. Even when the ANCC and AANPCP retire certain certifications and their corresponding exams, you will still be allowed to maintain your credentials by renewing them in a timely manner. You will, however, want to make sure your certification does not lapse as your original specialty of certification may no longer be available beginning in 2015.
If your outdated specialty certification does lapse, a certification renewal process will be in place and may be completed by fulfilling continuing education and clinical practice hour requirements. If you do not meet these requirements you may not be eligible for renewal.
The APRN Consensus Model’s effect on nurse practitioner programs
In keeping with the recommendations of the APRN Consensus Model, nurse practitioner programs are now offering specialties in line with new NP certification exams. For example, in place of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs, schools have transitioned to offering Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and/or Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner programs. These changes keep graduates eligible for certification.
Nurse practitioner programs are also required to meet certain accreditation and educational standards. For example, NP programs must include a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours within the selected specialty’s role and population as well as include courses in physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology. By standardizing specialty offerings and core coursework, students and employers can be assured of a certain standard when it comes to nurse practitioner preparation for practice.
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