APN professional development plan is a document that nurses seeking to further their career create to guide and record activities that should be undertaken to meet requirements for advanced practice in nursing. Having a professional development plan is also an indication that nurses are improving and maintaining their competence to practice. It is a sign of taking professional development seriously, which is an important part of being self-regulated. In other words, a professional development plan is a pathway to achieve certain career goals and objectives. Registered nurses (RNs) use this plan to transition to advanced practice nursing roles. However, to determine the best path to becoming APN, several tasks should be completed. For instance, in Florida, to become an APN, different standards should be met, including education, licensing, and governing requirements as part of the scope of practice. Additionally, different core competencies should be assessed and the prerequisite leadership skills outlined. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the scope of APN practice in the State of Florida, review the nurse practitioner core competencies, and analyze the leadership skills that are necessary to qualify as a nurse practitioner (NP) leader within complex systems.
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APN Scope of Practice
The scope of practice for APNs covers the educational standards and licensure requirements that RNs should meet before becoming NPs as stipulated in the Florida nursing laws and rules. According to Toney-Butler and Martin (2019), the Florida Board of Nursing is the regulatory body whose main aim is to ensure that individuals meet the necessary qualifications and requirements to practice nursing in the state. This regulatory body deals with licensing, monitoring, education, and rehabilitation. The Florida Board of Nursing acts within the guidelines of the Nurse Practice Act, which was enacted by the Florida Legislature to act as a framework for ensuring professional nursing care and protecting patients seeking such services.
In terms of educational qualifications, to practice as an APN in Florida, a nurse should have a master’s or postmaster’s degree. Toney-Butler and Martin (2019) state that any individual “licensed in the state of Florida to practice as a professional nurse and who holds a license in advanced nursing practice; i.e., certified nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, psychiatric nurses, and clinical nurse specialists” (p. 8) can qualify to practice as Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).
In addition, the State of Florida allows collaborative practice whereby NPs work under the supervision of physicians. This engagement should be written down and signed by the involved parties in a document known as a collaborative agreement. According to the Florida Board of Nursing, the supervising physician is expected to be available for consultation whenever needed (even if through phone) (Toney-Butler & Martin, 2019). In addition, patients should be notified concerning the presence or absence of the involved physicians in any given clinic. In some cases, nursing practice functions under specific guidelines under the collaborative agreement, which states the specific conditions that APNs can manage together with examinations that could be carried out as stipulated under the Nurse Practice Act.
Therefore, the State of Florida exercises restricted NP practice, and thus such nurses cannot function autonomously without the collaborative agreement with physicians. The State of Florida also allows prescriptive authority for nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances. This provision was adopted in 2016 to allow masters or doctoral graduate APRNs to apply for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license to administer some drugs to patients (Kaplan, 2016). However, before getting this license, ARNPs have to pass a course on controlled substance training.
Nurse Practitioner (NONPF) Core Competencies
The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) has created a set of core competencies that all NPs should know regardless of their specialty. According to Thomas et al. (2017), the NONPF core competencies fall into nine broad areas, including “scientific foundations, leadership, quality, practice inquiry, technology, and information literacy, policy, health delivery system, ethics, and independent practice” (p. 1). Each core competence area is subdivided into different and specific objectives that all NPs must demonstrate before graduating.
Under scientific foundation competencies, NPs should have a comprehensive background in medical sciences, especially in pharmacology and pathophysiology (Thomas et al., 2017). Leadership competencies ensure that NPS has the relevant skills in professional accountability, advocacy, and scholarship. Quality competencies allow NPs to access and use information from databases and assess research findings, while practice inquiry competencies focus on the application of academic research in clinical settings. The goal of technology and information literacy competence is to ensure that NPS can use technology to enhance patient outcomes and ensure safety in nursing practice. Through policy competencies, NPs can influence legislation for the improvement of health care provision issues, while ethics competencies involve the understanding of ethical implications in practice. Finally, independent practice competencies allow NPs to function independently as licensed practitioners.
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As an RN, I feel that my strengths lie in leadership and practice inquiry. I have been a student leader since I was in high school, and this aspect has prepared me to lead people even under complex situations. I have also studied extensively on leadership qualities that characterize successful leaders in different professions. Currently, I am reading a book on leading teams with members from diverse backgrounds, and I believe that such skills will play an important role in future leadership, especially at a time when the world is becoming one global community. On practice inquiry competence, I am generally a curious person, always looking for ways to improve my nursing practice. I am constantly identifying clinical problems and appraising evidence to understand how it can be applied in practice. Additionally, I believe in evidence-based practice, and thus I have learned how to use data to support changes in clinical practice and management.
However, I have some weaknesses that could be improved. My major weaknesses are in policy and ethics competence areas. In most cases, policy and advocacy require someone to be conversant with the politics of the day, and I do not like politics. On ethics, I find the theoretical frameworks of this competence area confusing at times. For instance, beneficence demands that I do the right thing for the patient. However, the term “right thing” is relative, and it may have different meanings to different people. During my nursing practice, I have encountered cases whereby I am required to respect the patients’ autonomy, but they may lack the capacity to make the right choices and thus am torn between autonomy and beneficence. In order to achieve different NP competencies, I could undertake different scholarly activities during my master’s program. For instance, I could take a short course on scientific foundations to nursing practice, such as focusing on pathophysiology. I could also engage in advocacy groups as part of my scholarly work to improve this competence area.
Some of the leadership skills required to lead as an NP within complex systems include crisis, stress, and teamwork management. Crises are bound to happen in any workplace setup and especially in clinical settings whereby resources are ever limited, and workload is always increasing. Therefore, a good leader should possess the requisite skills to offer guidance and direction during such times. Similarly, stress is a common factor in clinical set-ups whereby nurses are overworked due to staffing shortages and increasing patient needs (Khanade & Sasangohar, 2017). Consequently, a leader should be skilled enough to manage and overcome stress and lead others to do the same. Finally, teamwork plays an integral part in the provision of quality and timely care services to patients. However, for teams to work effectively, proper management is required, and thus leaders should possess such skills. The current workplace is diverse, and teams may fail to accomplish their objectives if not managed appropriately. Therefore, in a bid to achieve the necessary skills, NPS could intern in places where they can assume leadership roles. In addition, NPS could enroll in short leadership courses to improve their competencies.
APN professional development plan is an important tool that nurses could use to transition from RNs to APNs. In Florida, RNs are required to undergo a rigorous process of learning, licensing, and regulation under the watch of the Florida Board of Nursing before becoming APRNs. Additionally, APNs are expected to demonstrate different core competencies before they can graduate from NP school. As an RN, my competence areas include leadership and practice inquiry, but I need to work on matters to do with policy and ethics in nursing practice. Additionally, as a nurse, leadership skills, such as stress, crisis, and teamwork management are important for NPs to lead people within complex systems.
Kaplan, L. (2016). Advocacy in Practice. Florida NPs advocate for controlled substance prescriptive authority. Nurse Practitioner, 41(5), 14-16.
Khanade, K., & Sasangohar, F. (2017). Stress, fatigue, and workload in intensive care nursing: A scoping literature review. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 61(1), 686-690.
Thomas, A., Crabtree, M., Delaney, K., Dumas, M., Kleinpell, R., Marfell, J., … Wolf, A. (2017). Nurse practitioner core competencies content. Web.
Toney-Butler, T. J., & Martin, R. L. (2019). Florida nursing laws and rules. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.