Baccalaureate nursing education comprises a foundational degree that prepares the nurse to incorporate evidenced-based research into practice, apply skills in leadership roles, and identify specific treatment needs that may be unique to individuals or generalized to select communities (AACN, 2008). According to the AACN, there are nine essentials to the undergraduate nursing baccalaureate degree that encompass an interdisciplinary approached facilitating care delivery through articulate communication, improved quality of care, and management of healthcare delivery systems. The focus of undergraduate nursing education is nonspecific to specialty yet prepares nurses for ensuing professional challenges both in the workplace and with future educational aspirations.

Graduate degree nursing is more precise in expected outcomes yet more dynamic in role application through degree specialty with greater emphasis on nursing’s transition from an occupation to a profession as defined by (McEwen & Wills, 2011). One distinction between baccalaureate and master’s education is the broad contributory effect to social, business, education, politics, and healthcare science and application (AACN, 1996) intrinsic in advanced practice nursing. These contributions flow primarily from an emphasis on clinical expertise in selected specialties such as nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse mid-wife although non-clinical specialties such as nurse educator and administration are also included.

My graduate nursing expectations are influenced by personal desire to change roles from a level of care nurse in a psychiatric setting to a more research-based, consulting, and educational role. It should prepare me to continue lifelong learning appropriate to my clinical specialty or theoretical role. Currently, being a nurse educator is one of my interests, thus the specialty of my current degree. There are other more personal family factors influencing this decision. I also want to understand and apply primary and secondary prevention without the necessary use of conventional medical protocols. My desire is to understand and facilitate the body’s natural healing mechanisms through nutritional and biologic processes. One of the practical applications that master’s prepared nurses engage is (and I believe it is the most important process) providing interventions through the therapeutic use of self (McEwen & Wills, 2011). I have and continue to conduct n=1 research projects and hope to supplement this anecdotal knowledge to research-based efforts in the beneficence of others. This may require a nurse practitioner degree so my current graduate nursing expectations are still in flux and remain fluid.

AACN, (2008). The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. American Association of College of Nursing. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

AACN, (1996). The Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. American Association of College of Nursing.  Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

McEwen, M. and Wills, E. (2011). Theoretical Basis for Nursing. [3rd ed.]. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters, Kluwer/Lippincott, William, and Wilkins

Advanced Practice Nursing

Recently starting my MSN Ed, I quickly realized there is a newer and larger definition of advanced practice nursing or advanced nursing practice. I’ll just call it APN. Historically, APN stood for advanced clinically trained nurses in direct patient care such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse-midwives.

The current trending definition of APN includes all master’s and doctorate level educated nurses. According to the (AACN, 2004),

Any form of nursing intervention that influences health care outcomes for individuals or populations, including direct care of individual patients, management of care for individuals and populations, administration of nursing and health care organizations, and the development and implementation of health policy.

This modern definition of APN includes nurse educators, public health nurses, nurse administrators, and nursing research. I was surprised to learn APNs are no longer limited to direct clinical care. As far as mandating doctorate level education to the definition of APN, direct clinical care (DNP) and nursing research (PhD) seem to be the only two defined terminal pathways.

The exceptions to the current proposed mandate of doctorate level educated nurses by 2015 appear to be limited to clinical nurse leaders and nurse educators. These two professional arenas are generally accepted at the master’s level due to the combination of didactic training and practical experience (Barker, 2009).


AACN, (2004). AACN Postion Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, October 2004. American College of Association of Nurses. Retrieved November 21, 2011 from

Barker, A. (2009). Advanced Practice Nursing: Essential Knowledge for the Profession. Sudburry, Ma: Jones and Bartlett.