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Advanced Practice Nurses

The Job

Working in clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care settings, APNs are qualified to handle a wide range of basic health problems, usually in association with a physician, but in some cases working independently.

Specific duties of APNs are determined by their specialty, and to a certain extent their precise duties are prescribed by the state in which they practice. APNs are required to be certified in most states and in most states can prescribe medications.

Working within prescribed guidelines and instructions of the physician, the APN orders, interprets, and evaluates diagnostic tests to identify the patient's clinical problems and health care needs. Then based on their findings, he or she records patient data and develops a treatment plan aimed at restoring the patient to health. After discussing this plan with the physician and other health professionals, the APN submits the plan and goals for individual patients for periodic review and evaluation. When warranted, APNs may prescribe drugs or other forms of treatment such as physical therapy, inhalation therapy, and related treatments. If warranted they may refer patients to the supervising physician for consultation and their special expertise in various areas of medical practice.

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