Family Nurse Practitioner

What Does Family Nurse Practitioner Do?

A family nurse practitioner is a registered nurse that has completed the requirements to become a registered nurse, but also earned an advanced degree as well, either a Master’s or Doctorate in Nursing and received training in more specific areas of medicine. They provide a broad range of services and can practice independently of a physician. Within their scope of duties, FNPs diagnose, treat and manage illnesses and diseases; order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests; prescribe and perform physical therapy and rehab; prescribe medication; assist in minor surgical procedures; and provide many other primary health care services. Family nurse practitioners generally work with patients throughout their life cycle and can act as their sole health care provider. One of their main focuses is the prevention of diseases and illnesses beginning with childhood and continuing through adolescence and into adulthood. Family nurse practitioners can work in a variety of settings from clinics, private offices, hospice centers, schools and private homes.

How Can I Become Family Nurse Practitioner?

Family nurse practitioners have a specialization in family medicine. First, they must have earned a nursing degree and license to become a registered nurse. They then completed an advanced degree in nursing, either at the Master’s or Doctorate level. During these programs they generally take classes in family nursing theory and intervention, management of acute and chronic illnesses, research approaches, primary health care concerns and leadership preparation. NPs are also licensed in the state of which they practice medicine and are certified through a national nursing board, usually the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. In the future, these two nursing bodies aim to require nurse practitioners to hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in order to be eligible for the certification exam. This exam is a computer based test that consists of 175 questions and generally takes up to three hours to complete.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for Family Nurse Practitioner?

One of the main benefits of working as a family nurse practitioner is the ability to foster long term relationships with patients. Many patients begin seeing FNPs at early ages and continue through the course of their lives. This allows FNPs to become experts in their patients’ medical conditions and backgrounds. Also, these family nurses are able to create their own practices. This allows for more flexibility in the amount of patients seen, work schedules and more. Another added benefit of becoming a FNP is the increased salary. Nurse practitioners that have a specialization in family medicine will earn a higher salary than those without the added experience. Also, NPs generally earn about $20,000 more per year than a registered nurse. The demand for nurse practitioners in general is expected to increase dramatically in the next several years. Medical centers and organizations can reap the benefits of employing a highly skilled and educated NPs without having to pay the higher salary of a physician.