Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are registered nurses who have specialized educational and clinical training in family practice. Their training allows them to work with adults and children. Many FNPs choose to work in a clinical or family medical practice setting. Others choose to work in underserved communities. FNPs focus on preventative care and helping their patients maintain their health and well-being.
In this article we will discuss:
- What does a family nurse practitioner do?
- What are the steps to becoming a family nurse practitioner?
- Do family nurse practitioners need certification?
- How much does a family nurse practitioner make?
- What is the job outlook for family nurse practitioners?
What does a family nurse practitioner do?
Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner is a good career move for nurses who wish to work with patients of all ages. FNPs emphasize wellness programs designed to preserve and protect their patients’ health. They can act much like a doctor, assessing patients’ health, making diagnoses, and prescribing medication. FNPs can prescribe medication in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. There are three types of practice environments for FNPs:
Full practice is the model recommended by the National Academy of Medicine and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. States which give family nurse practitioners full practice rights allow FNPs to evaluate patients; diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic testing; create and manage treatment plans; and prescribe medications (including controlled substances).
Reduced practice limits the setting of one or more elements of an FNP’s scope of practice and requires a career-long regulated collaborative agreement with a healthcare provider.
Restricted practice is the least desirable situation for an FNP. It restricts the scope of practice and mandates career-long supervision, delegation, or team management by another healthcare provider.
What are the steps to becoming a family nurse practitioner?
Family nurse practitioner candidates undergo rigorous educational training. Like other nursing specialties, the first step involves earning Registered Nurse licensure. To do this, you must complete either an Associate in Nursing Degree or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited nursing program. Then, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Once you have your RN license, gaining some experience in your field is recommended. While you are working, you can enroll in an accredited FNP program that offers a master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree. You can find accredited programs through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Whichever the program path, it is important to complete graduate-level courses in health assessment, pharmacology, and physiology. They are required to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification exam.
Do family nurse practitioners need certification?
Certification is a required step in becoming an FNP. As previously mentioned, one of the credentialing organizations is the ANCC. The ANCC exam includes 175 to 200 questions focused on age-appropriate interventions, assessments, pharmacotherapeutics, and regulatory guidelines.
The other credentialing body is the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The AANP exam includes 150 questions designed to assess knowledge in subjects like clinical decision-making, evidence-informed practice, health history, and patient education.
FNPs must renew their certification every five years. This is in addition to maintaining a nursing license through the state licensing board. To maintain a state license to practice, continuing education courses (relevant to field of study) are often required.
How much does a family nurse practitioner make?
Salary.com placed the average annual earnings of an FNP at $111,876. These figures were current as of May 27, 2021, based on a cursory examination of all available FNP job listings in the U.S. Salary.com also compiled a listing of the top 5 places to work for FNPs. Making their list was:
- San Francisco, CA – 25 percent higher than the national average
- New York, NY – 20.3 percent higher than the national average
- Boston, MA – 12.7 percent higher than the national average
- Washington, DC – 11.3 percent higher than the national average
- Chicago, IL – 6.1 percent higher than the national average
What is the job outlook for family nurse practitioners?
The future looks bright for family nurse practitioners and other NP specialties. The U.S. has battled a nursing shortage since 1998. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for Nurse Practitioners of all specialties is expected to grow by 45% between now and 2029. The BLS credits an increased emphasis on preventative health measures in the U.S. as the primary reason for the high demand.
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