What’s the Difference Between a RN and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)?

A female nurse holding a clipboard in her handSometimes confusion exists among nursing hopefuls about the difference between a Registered Nurse and an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP). Florida National University (FNU) would like to help clear up some of this confusion, especially for those who are interested in pursuing a degree as a practicing nurse.

Registered Nurse

A Registered Nurse (RN) is the healthcare worker that most people are familiar with in this industry. RNs specialize in treating patients and preparing them for the doctor. Their duties include checking a patient’s vital signs like blood pressure, administering medications, along with providing patient education. RNs are also responsible for inserting and managing catheters, helping patients bathe and dress if necessary as well as reporting their ongoing status to an ARNP and/or the doctor. RNs also serves as the eyes and ears for the primary care provider to ensure that the patients are well taken care of and following the doctor’s orders.

Do You Need a College Degree to Become a RN?

To become an RN, you must earn an education from an accredited institution. Depending on the university, you can earn an associate degree in approximately two years or a bachelor degree in approximately four years. The length of the program affects the intensity, so those interested in a two-year program must have the time to commit towards completing the program.

For a well-rounded education in Nursing, FNU highly recommends considering a nursing degree program from an accredited university with a well-rounded curriculum. The Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs provide a quality nursing education that achieves the mission of preparing students for entry-level employment for nursing positions. Both curriculums focus on preparing students to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook of the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary for RN at $77,600 with an hourly wage of $37.31.

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)

Here’s where the confusion might be: Some people think that ARNP and RN are one in the same when actually the ARNP has much more responsibilities than a RN and require additional education and licensing.

ARNP are nurses who are licensed to prescribe medications, diagnose and treat illnesses. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Practitioners can practice independently in approximately 27 of the United States. ARNPs perform duties that are beyond the responsibilities of an RN. This is because the ARNP actually receives an extensive amount of medical education and training, and this plays an intricate role in such a professional position.

Comparing the RN and the ARNP

Unlike an RN, the ARNP does not work for the doctor. The ARNP works alongside the doctor and is licensed to evaluate a patient’s condition, perform diagnostic testing, provide treatment and order and administer medications.. The major difference between an ARNP and an RN is that the Nurse Practitioner can practice independently and have the authority to coordinate an entire healthcare team to plan and evaluate a patient’s care. The ARNP also has the authority to supervise other healthcare workers.


Because of the extensive education and knowledge an ARNP has, there is an increasing demand for this position across the country. This is because it’s filling a need created by a shortage of primary care physicians.

What Kind of Education is Needed to Become an ARNP?

An Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner requires a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. FNU’s MSN degree program is designed to prepare you for all of these responsibilities. This 1-year program focuses on the areas of health assessment, nursing theories and concepts, research, leadership, informatics, and healthcare promotion. After earning this degree, you’ll be well prepared to take the nurse practitioner exam. View FNU’s MSN degree program here.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook of the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary for ARNP at $124,680 with an hourly wage of $59.94.

Nursing Salaries—Something to Consider


The APRN salary will vary depending on the nursing specialty. You have the option to work in skilled nursing facilities, general medical clinics, surgical hospitals, private practices, and home health care. Also, higher populated areas might pay more than rural towns and smaller cities.

Florida National University has all of the resources necessary to help you along the way as you continue to gain the knowledge and experience needed to work as an RN and then an ARNP.

Contact an FNU advisor today to start the enrollment process in our ASN program and discuss financial aid options. Additional, find out more about the availability of online courses for our BSN and MSN programs.