Welcome to another educational and informative article comparing Registered Nurses and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse!

At the end of this article, you will be able to differentiate between the two nursing professions, understand their scope of practice, and decide which option you may choose.

This article discusses the following and more:

  • RN vs APRN – Overview
  • Scope of Practice
  • Education Requirements
  • Certification and Licensure
  • Salary and Job Outlook

Let’s begin!

RN vs APRN – Overview

RN vs APRN - Overview

RNs and APRNs collaborate to accomplish the same goal: providing competent and compassionate patient care. 

Their duties in accomplishing this aim, however, are often diverse. 

For example, RNs offer direct patient care as outlined in a patient’s medical plan. 


In contrast, APRNs collaborate with other advanced practice providers to develop this plan and oversee other medical staff, such as RNs and medical assistants. 

APRNs also have a broader patient monitoring role than RNs. 

Depending on the medical context, they often have a bigger patient load and may have longer-term interactions with patients. 

For example, APRNs might frequently act as the primary care provider for a group of patients in primary care settings and may work with a single patient for months, if not years.

Scope of Practice

Here we talk about scope of practice

All APRNs must receive advanced certification in a specialized nursing practice field and the necessary academic coursework and clinical experience to supervise all areas of their patients medical care. 

In addition, when transitioning into an advanced practice nursing role, APRNs must use more of their analytical and organizational abilities than their direct bedside care skills. 

For example, APRNs who work as primary care providers for patients (such as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP), Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioners, or Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners) may have long-term relationships with their patients. 

In contrast, RNs in primary care settings may only see patients for a few minutes during check-ups or address minor to moderate ailments.

APRNs such as Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners may follow a patient from admission to discharge or transfer to another medical institution in acute or intensive care settings. 

In contrast, RNs in these settings generally do not work with patients beyond bedside care tasks.

APRNs receive multiple years of graduate-level training, which prepares them to address complicated patient health conditions that RNs may not be prepared to recognize and manage. 

Similarly, while an Acute Care Staff Nurse may be skilled at stabilizing patients and administering necessary treatments, an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner is qualified to diagnose patient health problems and supervise a patient’s care during inpatient or intensive care.

Furthermore, APRNs have the qualifications to work mostly autonomously under no supervision. 

APRNs currently have full practice authorization in 22 states and the District of Columbia, with reduced practice power in 16 states and local practice authority in 12 states. 

APRNs are qualified to direct Staff Nurses and other medical team members and do not require the same level of oversight or guidance as RNs in the same medical environment. 

Registered Nurse Roles

Registered Nurse responsibilities and duties

Registered Nurses may take up any of the following roles:

Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurses: ICU Registered Nurses care for patients who have suffered significant injuries or diseases. 

ICU Nurses may work in general hospitals or specialist units, treating patients of all ages and diseases (i.e., the pediatric ICU). 

Most care facilities demand additional training before Nurses can work in the ICU due to the complexity and severity of the situations.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Registered Nurse: is much more specialized than an Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse. 

These nurses work with premature or seriously unwell infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

They keep an eye on the newborns and their life-saving equipment and console them when they can.

Emergency Room Nurses who succeed at remaining cool and mastering chaos flourish in the emergency room (ER) because you never know what case will walk through the door. 

ER Nurses assist patients suffering from significant diseases and injuries, many of which are life-threatening. 

Nurse in the Operating Room: Operating Room (OR) Nurses, also known as Perioperative Nurses, look after patients before, during, and after surgery. 

They also act as a link between the surgical team and the patients’ and families needs. 

Nurses in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) specialize in assisting patients recovering from anesthesia after surgery. 

They are also known as Peri-anesthetic Nurses, and they are trained to deal with patients who wake up bewildered, in pain, or who have had a poor reaction to the anesthesia. 

As they awaken, patients are comforted by PACU Nurses and are given recovery advice.

Med-Surg Nurses are the largest nursing specialty in the United States, treating adult patients with various injuries and illnesses. 

While medical-surgical nursing was once considered an entry-level profession for Nurses seeking training, it has evolved into a specialization. 

Nurses must be well-versed in a wide range of diseases and injuries.

Oncology Nurses: Patients with cancer or those at risk of developing it are cared for by Oncology Nurses. 

They keep track of the patient’s health and administer treatments like chemotherapy.

Dialysis RNs, also known as Nephrology Nurses provide dialysis treatment to patients suffering from renal disease or other illnesses. 

Home Care Nurses: They frequently work with older people, children, and those who have developmental or mobility challenges. 

These Nurses pack their nursing bags and head out to see patients in their homes and other places like senior living complexes.

APRN Roles

A smiling nurse

The various types of APRN roles, however, include the following:

Nurse Practitioners (NPs):  professional healthcare practitioners and leaders with the training and competence to care for patients the same way Physicians do, providing direct care and coordinating care.

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs): specialize in caring for women before, during, and after pregnancy, as well as helping women during labor and delivery and caring for newborn newborns. 

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs): are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists who deliver anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery, trauma stabilization, treatment, or palliative care. 

CRNAs are also in charge of creating an anesthetic plan for each patient they work with and counseling patients on the anesthesia technique before administering it.

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are similar to Nurse Practitioners in that they provide direct patient care while also taking on more administrative and leadership tasks to improve the care systems. 

Education Requirements

Education requirements RN vs APRN

To become a Registered Nurse, you must first get an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and then pass the NCLEX-RN exam. 

Traditional face-to-face nursing programs, as well as online nursing programs, are available.

Conversely, a master’s degree in nursing is the most typical path to becoming an APRN. 

Yet, other nurses may choose a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

However, it would be best if you balanced your choice of nursing degree level with your interest in a particular field of study. 

For example, a Nurse who wants to work as a Nurse Practitioner in women’s health could look for a degree program specializing in that field.

Certification and Licensure

Nurse Administrators Certification Options And Requirements

To become a licensed RN, you must first have a minimum of an associate’s degree.

 After that, an intended RN must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX).

In contrast, to become a certified APRN, an individual must fulfill several requirements. 

Before moving on, an aspiring APRN must first obtain an RN license and work experience as an RN. 

Nurses should also pursue extra education to earn at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). 

Finally, individuals who have completed an APRN degree program must pass a certification exam administered by an accredited body, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), before practicing as an APRN. 

Depending on the area of competence, the accreditation organization through which an individual chooses to receive certification may vary.

Salary and Job Outlook

Let's compare the salary and job outlook of RN and APRN

The table below shows the mean salary by state for RNs and APRNs (Nurse Practitioner, Midwife, and Anesthetist).

StateRNNurse PractitionerNurse MidwifeNurse Anesthetist
New Hampshire$73,880$110,680$108,050$196,000
New Jersey$84,280$123,810$117,280$193,900
New Mexico$73,300$111,930$98,750$162,320
New York$87,840$122,550$120,380$200,350
North Carolina$66,440$105,890$100,730$189,060
North Dakota$66,290$110,950N/A$195,010
Puerto Rico$35,040N/AN/A$54,690
Rhode Island$82,310$115,310$108,320N/A
South Carolina$64,840$100,680$99,590$165,940
South Dakota$59,540$102,230N/A$190,880
Virgin Islands$68,500N/AN/AN/A
Washington, D.C$94,820$111,950$95,990N/A
West Virginia$63,220$103,170N/A$188,580

Choosing Between RN and APRN

The majority of APRNs begin their careers as registered nurses. 

The majority of APRNs begin their careers as registered nurses. 

When they decide to advance in their careers, they go back to school to acquire an advanced degree so they may earn higher pay, have a more flexible work schedule, have more responsibilities, and so on.

RNs and APRNs both enjoy satisfying jobs and significantly impact patients’ lives, regardless of which profession they pursue.


Conclusion on RN vs APRN

To address mild to severe health disorders, APRNs and RNs undertake health evaluations and diagnoses and support patients through consultations, treatment administration, and medical procedures. 

On the other hand, APRNs have thorough training and knowledge to make medical choices that RNs may not be qualified to make. 

In addition, their position is primarily focused on evaluating patient data to generate care plans, whereas RNs are more focused on implementing these care plans.


FAQs about RN vs APRN

Does RN earn more than APRN?

The wage difference between an RN and an APRN is significant. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that registered nurses earned an average of $80,010 per year in 2020, while an APRN, such as a nurse practitioner, made $117,670 per year. 

Can an APRN work as a Registered Nurse in Texas?

In Texas, all APRNs must first obtain a license as a Registered Nurse, and they must keep their RN license to keep their advanced practice nursing license. However, accepting an assignment within the scope of practice of a Registered Nurse is not forbidden for an APRN.

What is the role of the RN and APRN in initiating CPR in a witnessed arrest?

In the absence of a Physician’s do-not-resuscitate/out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate order, RNs or APRNs should begin CPR immediately in an observed arrest regardless of the healthcare environment. The Nurse should continue the CPR and inform the physician of the client’s changing state, including any ongoing life-saving treatments.

What are the CE requirements for RNs and APRNs?

RNs and APRNs must meet the same CE requirements. In addition, many states require APRNs to practice for a certain number of hours throughout their renewal periods. As a result, APRN renewal periods have been extended to every 5 years for APRNs in some states.


Annual Salary For RNs and APRNs

RN vs APRN Roles

APRN Education and Certification 

CE Requirements For RNs and APRNs

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