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Family Nurse Practitioner Career GuideExplore the rewarding role of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), encompassing key responsibilities and the impact on patient care. FNPs are central to long-term, personalized healthcare, often building lasting relationships with patients of all ages. Ideal for those who value daily patient interaction, meaningful connections, and enjoy working with diverse communities, a career as an FNP offers a unique blend of compassionate care and comprehensive expertise.

Getting Started: Family Nurse Practitioner FAQ

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

A Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who specializes in providing preventative and primary care to patients across the lifespan, from infants to the elderly. FNPs diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions, prescribe medications, and emphasize preventive care, making them valuable providers for families seeking comprehensive healthcare services.

What does a Family Nurse Practitioner do?

FNPs provide a wide range of preventative and primary care services to patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Their responsibilities include conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating medical conditions, prescribing medications, managing chronic illnesses, promoting health and wellness through patient education, and often serving as the primary point of contact for patients seeking healthcare services.

What is the demand for Family Nurse Practitioners?

The demand for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) has been consistently high and is expected to remain strong, with a projected field growth of 45% in the next 10 years. Factors such as the increasing need for primary care providers, an aging population, and a focus on cost-effective healthcare delivery contribute to the continued demand for FNPs, making FNP a promising career choice in the healthcare field.

How much does a Family Nurse Practitioner make?

Nurse Practitioner salaries depend on many factors such as the specialty of advanced practice nursing and location of the job. According to Payscale, on average in 2023, NPs in the U.S. made an annual salary of $107k.

How do you become a Family Nurse Practitioner?

  • Here are the key stages of achieving your career as an FNP:

  • Get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
    Having a strong base of knowledge in all areas of nursing will help you as you move forward into your clinical practice, and further education.
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN and work as a Registered Nurse
    To become a licensed registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). This is a requirement in all states. The NCLEX measures the foundational knowledge and skills needed for safe nursing practice for entry-level nurses.

    To become a Family Nurse Practitioner, and before you apply for your MSN, you must have at least one year of experience as a Registered Nurse.
  • Get your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
    Depending on the intensity of your program, you can earn your MSN in two to three years, on campus or online.
  • Get your Family Nurse Practitioner Board Certification from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center
    Your board certification relies on you passing this examination which assesses your knowledge of entry-level skills and clinical competencies.
  • You're ready to work as a FNP!
    As an FNP, you're someone that people and their loved ones rely on for the care, and attention they need to live healthy lives.

Where can a Family Nurse Practitioner work?

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including primary care clinics, family medicine practices, pediatric offices, urgent care centers, and specialty clinics. They may also find employment in hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, and educational institutions, or choose to work independently in private practice. Here are some more specific duties you might expect FNPs to perform in these settings:
  • Clinics: In clinics, FNPs often hold a similar role to those of primary physicians, independently assessing, diagnosing and treating patients within the scope of their skill set and license.
  • Acute or urgent care center: Although broken bones and burn wounds are commonly seen in urgent care clinics, FNPs in these settings do have the opportunity to diagnose and treat a diverse community of patients experiencing a wide range of medical issues.
  • Community centers: In community centers, FNPs often act more as a resource than as an acting physician. In this role, they’re mainly responsible for educating and informing the public on proper health practices.
  • Doctor's offices: Within doctor’s offices, FNPs act as support to the primary care physician, keeping patient information up to date, and communicating with the patient before and after their visit.
  • Hospitals: In hospitals, FNPs can work in a variety of settings—the emergency room, critical care, and the maternity department, to name a few. Working in a hospital can be a helpful way to gain experience treating a wide variety of conditions and diverse patient populations, often focused on acute care.
  • Schools and public health facilities: Some FNPs work in school-based clinics, where they provide primary care to students.  Like in primary care offices, FNPs in public health clinics conduct wellness check-ups and often help underserved communities by making primary care more accessible and affordable.
  • Long-term care facilities: FNPs are well-suited to work in long-term care facilities, where patients are at high risk for hospital admission and can have complex needs. FNPs can be the liaison between patients and their interdisciplinary care team. 
  • Outpatient clinics: Similar to how they work in standard or private physician offices, general nurse practitioners and FNPs often support primary care physicians in outpatient clinics where patients undergo minor procedures or treatments.
  • Telemedicine: Telemedicine allows nurse practitioners, including FNPs, to support a much broader range of patients, both geographically and socioeconomically. Because of their far-reaching knowledge, FNPs are often valuable on these digital platforms, because they can quickly connect with and assess such a wide variety of health issues.

What areas can a Family Nurse Practitioner specialize in?

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) have a broad scope of practice, allowing them to provide comprehensive healthcare services across the lifespan. While FNPs are already specialized in family practice, they can further hone their skills and expertise in various areas to cater to specific patient populations or healthcare needs. Some of the key areas of specialization for Family Nurse Practitioners include:
  • Pediatric care: FNPs can focus on the health needs of children, from infancy through adolescence, including preventive care, diagnosis, and treatment of common childhood illnesses and conditions.
  • Geriatric Care: Specializing in geriatric care involves focusing on the health needs of elderly patients, addressing issues like chronic diseases, mobility limitations, and cognitive changes.
  • Women’s Health: This specialization includes a focus on gynecological, reproductive, and maternal health, offering services like family planning, prenatal care, and menopause management.
  • Men’s Health: FNPs can specialize in addressing health issues specific to men, including prostate health, sexual health, and screening for common male-specific conditions.
  • Mental Health: FNPs may choose to specialize in psychiatric and mental health, providing care for patients with mental health disorders, offering counseling, and managing medications.
  • Chronic Disease Management: Specializing in chronic disease management involves caring for patients with long-term conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, focusing on disease management and lifestyle modifications.
  • Urgent Care: FNPs can work in urgent care settings, providing acute care for illnesses and injuries that are not life-threatening but require prompt attention.
  • Occupational Health: This area focuses on the health and wellbeing of workers, including injury prevention, workplace safety, and treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Integrative Health: FNPs may specialize in integrative or holistic health, combining traditional medicine with alternative therapies like acupuncture, herbal medicine, and mind-body practices.
  • Telehealth: With the rise of digital healthcare, FNPs can specialize in providing remote care through telehealth platforms, addressing a range of health concerns virtually.
How Much Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Make?
In the U.S., Nurse Practitioners on average make an annual salary of $107K according to 2023 data from Payscale.com.
Female nursing student studying on laptop with stack of books and coffee cartoon graphic
  • 9 Tips to Increase Your Salary as a Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Gain experience
    Accumulating years of experience in your FNP role can lead to higher salaries as you become more skilled and knowledgeable.
  • Pursue additional certifications
    Obtaining specialized certifications or advanced practice certifications in areas like acute care or gerontology can make you a more valuable and higher-paid FNP.
  • Seek employment in high-demand areas
    Working in regions with a shortage of healthcare providers or in underserved communities may offer higher salaries and financial incentives.
  • Negotiate effectively
    When discussing a job offer or during performance evaluations, be prepared to negotiate your salary and benefits.
  • Consider further education
    Pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree or a post-master's FNP certificate can enhance your qualifications and potentially lead to higher-paying positions.
  • Explore different practice settings
    Transitioning to a specialty clinic or healthcare organization that offers higher compensation packages may boost your salary.
  • Network and stay updated
    Building professional relationships, staying informed about industry trends, and actively participating in your local nursing organizations can open up opportunities for salary growth.
  • Evaluate your contract regularly
    Periodically assess your employment contract to ensure your compensation remains competitive with the market standards.
    * Remember that salary increases may vary based on your geographic location, the healthcare facility, and market conditions, so it's essential to research and adapt your approach accordingly.
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A Day in the Life a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • 5 Attributes About a Career as a Family Nurse Practitioner

    As a career rooted in long-term, and sometimes multigenerational patient relationships, FNPs are among the most compassionate and intimately connected providers in all of healthcare. FNPs are the people you’ll likely see most throughout your medical life, and are leaned on by both patients and doctors to provide individualized healthcare insights, and support.

    Here are some of the core characteristics that come with a career as an FNP:

  • Highly Compensated
    As you progress in your career, you’ll likely be met with opportunities to increase your income as you gain more experience. However, the base salary of a Family Nurse Practitioner typically relies on their specialized skill set, any additional credentials, the level of demand in their area, and the level or environment in which they’re operating. So, it’s largely up to you to pursue a path that will meet your financial needs or goals.
  • Independent
    As an FNP, you’ll have the privilege of being the liaison between your patient and their primary physician, making you their central point of communication surrounding their health needs. You’ll also have the opportunity, in some states, to start your own practice. If this is something you’re looking to pursue, it’s important to note that you’re responsible for taking the proper legal and safety precautions in opening and operating a medical business.
  • Patient-facing
    As an FNP, you’re almost always face-to-face with a patient. During this time, it’s important to be engaged and attentive in order to not only strengthen your relationship, but also to become familiar with all of their health risks or needs.
  • Structured
    Because FNPs are often the first point of contact between patients and their necessary level of care, you’ll need a routine that lets you anticipate and prepare for every situation, and create a potential plan of action. This structure not only allows you to manage your time and priorities, but it also helps you give patients the quality of care they expect and deserve.
  • Varied
    Due to the broad range in age and backgrounds of your potential patients, your job as a Family Nurse Practitioner will require you to think on your feet. This is where having structure to rely on really comes in handy—otherwise, it can be tricky to stay on top of the varied information and interactions you’re faced with every day.
The Challenges & Rewards of a Being a Family Nurse Practitioner

My Life as a Family Nurse Practitioner


For Tasheima Y., MSN, RN, RNC-NIC, FNP-BC, quality nursing runs in the family. After a childhood of watching her mother provide quality care to her patients, Tasheima decided to pursue a career in nursing, and currently works as a pediatric Family Nurse Practitioner. With patients ranging from age zero to 21, Tasheima is a pro communicator and healthcare provider. Be it a worried new mom, a panicked toddler or a secretive teen, Tasheima loves being the person that can solve their problems and put their minds and bodies at ease.
Video still of Tashima Young in front of hospital beds
A day in the life of a Family Nurse Practitioner
Paying for Nursing School
Learn more about how to fund your education with nursing scholarships.
Nurse in scrubs typing on a keyboard
Join an Organization
Become a member of a FNP organization to find career opportunities, learn from your colleagues, and support the profession.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

The Journal for Nurse Practitioners

Sources

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