Primary Care NP Role vs. APN Roles

Primary Care NP Role vs. APN Roles

There are various similarities and differences between nurse practitioners (NPs) roles and advanced practice nurse (APNs) roles. The roles of NPs include diagnosing patients, screening, and treating critical and chronic diseases, and managing medical situations (Lowe et al, 2012). APN roles include nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist (CNS), as well as certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). To begin, the roles of the nurse-midwife include the provision of prenatal and postnatal care, coordination of care to ensure holistic, voluntary, and social services for pregnant women, leadership in planning. Nurse midwives are educators, counselors, and supervisors (Mona, 2016). A clinical nurse specialist performs assessments, diagnoses, treats patients, and engages in healthcare management and research (Brennan, 2021). The roles of a certified registered nurse anesthetist include administration of pain medications, moderate sedation, and analgesics during, before, and after surgery, management of patient’s recovery from anesthesia, and constant monitoring of the patient before and after surgery (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Generally, as provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2006), advanced nursing practice entails an organizational and leadership component that guarantees patient safety, continuous improvement of health outcomes, as well as the practice of care.

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As seen in the roles highlighted above, the similarities between the NP role and the CNS role are that both engage in the assessment and screening diagnosis and treatment of patients. This is a critical aspect of primary care delivery. The similarity between the NP roles and the nurse-midwife role is that they both screen and consequently manage their patients (Mona, 2016). NPs roles, on the other hand, are focused on the entire population while nurse midwives mainly deal with pregnant women. Lastly, NP roles are similar to CRNA roles in terms of their involvement in close monitoring of their patients. The CRNA would assess patients before, during, and after surgery while NP roles entail the assessment and constant monitoring of patient status.

Differences abound between the NP role and the APN roles. For instance, the NP role differs from the midwife role in the sense that while the NP handles patients with varied conditions, nurse midwives specifically manage pregnant women and offer both antenatal and postnatal care. Additionally, the NP role differs from the CNS role in the sense that CNS has roles in leadership and research, which is not directly available for NPs (Brennan, 2021). Lastly, the NP role differs from the CRNA role because CRNA nurses are mainly limited to anesthesia in areas such as surgical suites, obstetrical delivery rooms, dentist offices, and ambulatory surgical centers, while the NP role comes with flexibility in terms of the patients they handle.

Communicating the NP role and the APN roles to both providers and consumers is critical. A proper method to communicate the roles of NP and APNs providers could be done by highlighting the academic credentials and the general scope of practice to the patients. This communication can be done through collaborative professional meetings and conferences with providers indicating the specific roles of NP as well as APNs. Interprofessional primary care team meetings are an essential platform to effectively communicate the roles (van Dongen, 2017). Communication of the roles to patients could also be done through direct explanations to each patient before the delivery of services. The nurse could take the initiative to explain his/her roles resulting in good rapport and a trusting relationship between the patient and NP. Lastly, communication could take place through the organization’s website where consumers have access, and diligently explain the NPs roles to make them aware of what to expect when they come to the healthcare setting. The overall outcome would be a clear understanding of what to expect from nurses in the course and continuum of care.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2006). The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. 1-28.

Brennan, D. (2021, June 29). What Is a Clinical Nurse Specialist? Retrieved Januar 18, 2022, from,health%20care%20management%20and%20research.

Lowe, G., Plummer, V., O’Brien, A. P., & Boyd, L. (2012). Time to clarify – the value of advanced practice nursing roles in health care. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68(3), 677-685.

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Nurse anesthetist. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from,function%20of%20the%20patient’s%20body.

Mona, M. (2016, May 31). Midwifery Roles and Responsibilities in Hospital. Retrieved from

Van Dongen, J. J., Habets, I. G., student, M., Beurskens, A., & Bokhoven, M. A. (2017). Successful participation of patients in interprofessional team meetings: A qualitative study. Health Expectations, 20(4), 724-733.


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