What is the APRN Consensus Model?

Do you ever get confused about the requirements for becoming a nurse practitioner? Or, if you are already a practicing NP, do you ever feel like you aren’t entirely sure what your scope of practice encompasses? The education, certification, licensure, and regulation of nurse practitioners is far from standardized across the country and can lead to confusion not only among the public but also for those of us within the profession.

Lack of uniformity when it comes to education, definitions and legal standards of APRN practice is a significant barrier to the advanced nursing profession. Currently, each state independently determines the requirements for entry into advanced practice. The confusion this creates decreases credibility and hinders growth of the advanced nursing profession. In 2008, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing decided it was time to remedy the problem bringing standardization across the country to the advanced practice nursing role. Collaborating with over forty nursing organizations they created the APRN Consensus Model.

Overall, the APRN Consensus Model is a framework for establishing definitions for the various advanced practice nursing roles as well as standardizing licensure, accreditation, certification, and education for advanced practice nurses. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing is encouraging states to make the changes necessary to comply with the APRN Consensus Model by 2015.

How does the APRN Consensus Model define advanced practice nursing?

The APRN Consensus Model recognizes four advanced nursing roles including certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse midwife (CNM), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and certified nurse practitioner (CNP). Together, these four roles are given the title advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). According to the Consensus Model, an APRN is a nurse who has completed graduate-level nursing education, has passed a national certification exam, has acquired clinical knowledge and skills sufficient to assess, diagnose, and manage patients, has clinical experience, and who has obtained a license to practice in one of the four recognized APRN roles.

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What are the benefits of adopting the APRN Consensus Model?

Adopting the Consensus model confers benefits not only to the nursing profession, but also to patients as well as current and future APRNs. For patients, adoption of uniform standards for APRNs helps assure they are being cared for by a competent individual who has completed requirements consistent across all states. For current and prospective APRNs, the model gives advanced practice nurses confidence that they have completed appropriate training for their role and that the APRN role and scope of practice will not change should the need to relocate arise.

Which states currently comply with standards outlined in the APRN Consensus Model?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing posts an up to date map showing which states comply and to what extent with the APRN Consensus Model. So far, ten states comply with all aspects of the model. Most states have only partially implemented the standards for APRNs suggested by the model.

Implementation of the APRN consensus model will be slow and will not be completed by the 2015 recommendation. Despite the barriers to making recommended changes, the suggestion of uniform standards for APRN licensure, accreditation, certification, education, and practice gives state boards of nursing much needed guidelines when it comes to making policies for advancing the nursing profession in their states.

If you are a practicing or prospective advanced practice nurse, I recommend reading the APRN Consensus Model to get some perspective as to where the advanced nursing profession is headed so you will be prepared for potential changes coming to your state.


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