Family nurse practitioners (FNP) are advanced practice nurses who have undergone extensive schooling to earn a graduate degree. This allows them to practice independently, serving populations that ordinarily might not have easy access to healthcare.
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Many rural and urban care settings have difficulty attracting physicians to work there, which leaves clinics understaffed and unable to provide adequate care for their patients. This is why FNPs provide such a valuable service; they are able to work independently and are often willing to work with such vulnerable populations.
Degree Requirements for FNPs
To practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner, one must earn a graduate degree, usually a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization of Family Nurse Practitioner. There are many schools across the United States that offer these degree programs, which usually take between two and three years to complete. Extensive clinical training is an important part of the training process, as this is what gives the FNP their clinical knowledge and skills.
Family Nurse Practitioner Degree (Master’s)
Throughout the duration of a nursing career, nurses come in contact with people of all ages. The different illnesses and injuries slowly become familiar to them. It is not uncommon for nurses to have an interest in treating these different illness and injuries, making a further education one of their strongest desires. As they learn the different treatment techniques and medications, they become just as experienced as some doctoral level medical professionals.
Over the course of their career, nurses come to comfortably familiarize themselves with the different illness and injuries that people suffer from on a regular basis. This growth in knowledge can sometimes spark an interest in serving the people as a primary care provider.
As a primary care provider, nurses can gain their own regular patients that depend upon them for general healthcare. Nurses currently working in the field can promote themselves to a higher level of practice by taking part in a family nurse practitioner degree program through an accredited university. This degree will help provide a more providing career for nurses that have what it takes to work directly with the public on a more personal level.
Professionals in this field have a wide variety of locations in which they can work. Since practitioners are needed in different settings, there is no end to the possibilities with this degree. Nurse practitioners are found within large hospitals as well as private practices across the country. The prominence of nurse practitioners in different fields has grown significantly over the last decade, increasing the popularity and respectability of this degree.
Typical Degree Requirements for FNP Programs at Nursing Schools
Generally, in order to be accepted into a Family Nurse Practitioner program, applicants must adhere to the requirements set forth by their chosen university. The requirement for each university may vary, but are very similar in nature overall.
Masters of Science in Nursing, RN Licensure, FNP Certificate Program
In order to become a family nurse practitioner, individuals must have at least a Master’s degree in Nursing, RN licensure in the state in which they reside, and complete a family nurse practitioner certification program. A Master of Science in Nursing can take anywhere from 1-3 years to achieve, depending on the length of course programs and effort on the student’s part. Some FNP programs are actually MSN programs, with additional study focused on becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. Then the MSN program will allow you to sit for the FNP certification.
Transition is easier for BSN’s
If a student has already completed a BSN program previously and is licensed to work as a nurse, the ease of transition is increased through the master’s program. Since the master’s degree is the first higher level step to becoming a family nurse practitioner, is in important to outline the subjects that will be included during this program.
Typical Courses for Family Nurse Practitioner Degrees
During the master’s program, students will take courses in family health, issue management, and health delivery systems. Master’s level programs are designed to expand on the information learned at lower degree levels, while promoting an effective leader and practitioner.
Family Nurse Practitioner Certification
Upon completion of an appropriate master’s degree, graduates must then complete a family nurse practitioner graduate certification program. These programs are typically completed after master’s level studies and are anywhere from 1-2 years to complete.
The certification program extends the knowledge of nursing graduates by implementing studies that are relevant to family health. Since family nurse practitioners work to aid families through times of sickness or with general health inquiries, the more information a student can get during the certification period, the better.
Typical Courses for FNP Certifications
During the certification program, students will take courses that are specifically designed for those on the family nurse practitioner path. Courses include advanced physiology, adolescent to elderly care, and advanced pharmacology. Since family nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat illnesses, they are given the clearance to prescribe medications. Throughout the program, nurses will be educated on the different aspects of human health from infants to the aging population. Nurse must have thorough knowledge of specialized treatments for illnesses.
Licensing Requirements for Family Nurse Practitioners
Like any other medical practitioner, family nurse practitioners are required to be licensed to practice after completion of all required educational programs. Previous completion of the NCLEX-RN is required. Depending on the state in which a nurse resides, the requirements for licensure may vary slightly.
Family nurse practitioners are certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which provides for a more reliable selection of nurse practitioners working in the field. The importance of high quality care in this field is vital, so nurses must be able to prove their qualifications and experience to the board prior to being released to practice in the field.
Working towards a career in this practice requires an increasing dedication from learners. This career demands that professionals communicate effectively with patients and provide care that is reliable and trustworthy. As a family nurse practitioner, professionals are responsible for individuals from birth to old age, which requires a wide range of skills.
What to Expect as a Family Nurse Practitioner
Professionals in this field can earn $102,670 per year according to the BLS (source). Wages typically provide a great quality of life for professionals in this field. This is a reliable and stable career that continues to provide an outstanding service to the community and a proud way of life for its professionals.
Nurses have a great sense of responsibility for their patients, so treating them on a personal level provides a great sense of accomplishment for them. As a practicing health care provider, family nurse practitioners provide a needed service to families. These professionals have the ability to work for large organizations or in their very own private office. Family nurse practitioners are becoming more popular for families seeking a provider for everyday illnesses and injuries.
The growth in popularity in this field is only slightly indicative of the future potential for growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 34% growth in this field over the next decade. For those interested in moving towards this type of degree for their future, there is no better time. As more individuals become aware of this demand, the supply of family nurse practitioners will grow. There is no better time than right now to pursue a career that pays off more than imaginable.
Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?
In general, FNPs work with all age groups, from pediatrics through the elderly. They manage basic physical exams and common complaints and can even work in the acute care setting such as hospital emergency rooms and clinics. Family nurse practitioners are able to:
- Perform a full history interview and physical exam
- Order additional diagnostic testing
- Form a diagnosis
- Create a treatment plan or refer the patient to a specialist
- Manage both acute and chronic medical conditions
- Prescribe medications
- Provide patient teaching
Despite being nationally board certified, an FNP’s scope of practice is largely determined by the state in which licensure was obtained.
While there is no specific professional organization for FNPs, both the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Practitioners represent all types of Nurse Practitioners, including FNPs. They provide guidance and support for all practicing Nurse Practitioners. Check out their website and click here for additional information.