Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) at a Glance
What’s the Demand for Family Nurse Practitioners?
While FNPs have always been in demand, there’s been a recent lack of family practice doctors, which has led to an uptick in FNPs taking on more primary care positions, especially in underserved communities. With their broad understanding of care across all ages, FNPs tend to have a meaningful sense of the overall health of the communities they serve, which can be invaluable to healthcare providers and community leaders in times of crisis.
How Do You Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Like any position in the medical field, becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner does take commitment. It’s highly recommended that you earn your BSN from an accredited university program. You’re also required to earn your license and work as a registered nurse, where you’ll become familiar with a broad range of care practices before you apply to your chosen master’s program.
Depending on the intensity of your program, you can complete your MSN in two to three years. Most programs offer both full- and part-time options, along with on-campus and online class capabilities. No matter which route you choose, we suggest starting your search by looking through our school finder app and by visiting the Counsel of Accreditation website, so you can find properly accredited programs, and learn about them in more detail.
Another thing to consider is that FNPs can also pursue additional specialty certifications in areas like diabetes and weight management, which can significantly influence your projected compensation.
As with various other nursing specialties, some states allow FNPs to open their own private practices, independent from the supervision of a licensed physician. In this case, a Family Nurse Practitioner’s salary can be higher, so long as they run a smart and safe business.
It's important to know what patients think, and how they think, so that you know how to best help them, and make them feel comfortable."
Apart from your advanced knowledge of patient and preventive care, being a Family Nurse Practitioner relies so much upon your ability to adapt to a wide range of patient needs, to effectively communicate with and educate your patients and their families, and to have a strong, collaborative work ethic.
As one of the healthcare providers your patients will probably see most throughout their lives, it’s important that you can keep them informed about the significance of their medical history, help them establish healthy preventive habits, and be someone they trust will answer whatever health questions they might have.
Attentive management skills are crucial when overseeing patient care. As an FNP, you’ll maintain health records, and provide information or referrals, so the better you manage yourself, the better you’ll serve your patients. Stay organized, hold yourself accountable, and do whatever you need to set yourself up for success.
The regulations on how a FNP may function vary from state to state, but more often than not, FNPs can work similarly to a primary care physician. This means that as an FNP, it’ll often be your job to assist or lead the examination, diagnosis, and prescription for a patient, and form a well-rounded, safe treatment plan.
- ClinicsIn clinics, Family Nurse Practitioners often hold a similar role to those of primary physicians, independently treating and assessing patients within the bounds of their skill set.
- Community centersIn community centers, Family Nurse Practitioners 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.
- Doctors’ officesWithin doctor’s offices, Family Nurse Practitioners act as support to the primary care physician, keeping patient information up to date, and communicating with the patient before and after their visit.
- HospitalsBecause their main focus is in long-term care, FNPs don’t usually work in hospitals, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. If FNPs are employed in a hospital setting, it’s usually thanks to their knowledge in acute care.
- Outpatient clinicsSimilar 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.
- TelemedicineTelemedicine 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.
A day in the life of 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.
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 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.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
The Journal for Nurse Practitioners