I totally agree with you, CardiacDork. APN has changed since I became a nurse 20+ years ago. It was always a goal of mine to grow and stretch into the role of APN someday. That was before it was a cool. Now I'm taking a good, hard look at whether I really want to do APN. I actually love bedside nursing and in my specialty (as I would think would be the case for most specialties), there is ALWAYS more to learn. In fact, one of MY passions is that bedside nurses will be patho/pharm-strong, thus making themselves effective advocates for the patient and trusted colleagues of the providers. I don't want to be mediocre. I don't want people in my profession (whether they be bedside, APN, case management, whatever) to be mediocre.
And I think going into a profession for the wrong reasons can result in mediocrity at best. I don't think APN is well understood -- even among nurses. Bedside nursing has become some unpleasant, but necessary stepping stone to a M-F, 9-5, six-figure salary. I don't think it's good. I don't have any answers for it. But I will say, in my area bedside nurses are educated and paid well. They are treated as colleagues with medicine, admin and the other disciplines. They are encouraged to pursue Masters/Doctorates (BSN is now required at every local system) -- but relative to other areas of the country, not so many are choosing to do so, and especially not so many are choosing APN. And my favorite.... they are smart, SMART nurses.
I can understand how the best and brightest nurses, in a work setting far less attractive than mine, would want to get out from under the thumb of a less-than-supportive system. Maybe part of the solution to not diluting the APN pool, is to work at keeping standards at the bedside HIGH by giving bedside nurses the tools they need to do their jobs well (staffing, education, admin support from top down, etc.).
APN shoudn't be about running away from something. Bedside nursing shouldn't be about checking off a box. The patients ..... and heck, the profession deserve better than that.