Invigorating the Career Potential of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)

 APRN Practice Perspective: Susan Mullaney, DNP, APRN, GNP-BC

By Susan Mullaney, DNP, APRN, GNC-BC
Vice President Practitioner Strategy, OptumCare

Emerging health care trends are invigorating the career potential of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) across the country. An aging population, a steady rise in the prevalence of chronic diseases, the forecasted physician shortage, the expanded scope of practice legislation, and increased access to health care via the Affordable Care Act are bolstering greater need for APRNs. No better time than now has ever existed for nurses to consider pursuing an APRN role or personal goals in advanced practice nursing.

So Many Choices 

APRNs today are able to practice in diverse settings with a focus on various patient populations, making the right career decision easier to make. For example, at OptumCare, a national health care services provider, we employ APRNs in primary and acute care roles, in home care, long-term care, urgent care and outpatient care settings. Our advanced practice clinicians conduct house calls, provide palliative care, hospice care, transitional care, and so many other caregiver roles. In light of the many opportunities available, I encourage APRNs and APRN candidates to turn a discerning eye inward to assess their career goals and potential.

Advancing the Practice 

Health care employers recognize the value APRNs bring to the delivery of care. As a result, they are nurturing the careers of advanced practice nurses by supporting educational opportunities and through mentoring the next generation of APRNs. For instance, as a part of UnitedHealth Group, OptumCare nurses have access to UHG's Center for Clinician Advancement, which provides a robust tuition reimbursement program, tuition discount opportunities, and fully funded academic programs. Nurses who want to pursue advanced degrees should take advantage of employer-sponsored educational opportunities that are helping pave the career paths of many future APRNs.

Teachable Moments 

With the myriad of credentials used in health care, the role of APRNs can be confusing for the public and our peers in health care delivery. APRNs have an opportunity, however, with every patient interaction to educate patients and their families about the role of APRNs. Furthermore, by joining nursing organizations that support full scope of practice, APRNs can become advocates for their profession. We need to make it clear to our fellow clinicians that our goal as APRNs is to improve access, quality, and cost of care.

APRNs are vital to the delivery of health care in the United States. The many opportunities for APRNs to work alongside our colleagues interprofessionally will promote improved health outcomes, reduction of disparity, and advances in population health within the continuum of care. It's a great time to be an APRN.

This article is sponsored by Purdue Global. Susan Mullaney is Vice President Practitioner Strategy at OptumCare. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of OptumCare or Purdue Global. The University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.